Top Trends and Concerns for CIOs/CXOs in the Banking Industry

By Avi Rembaum, VP-Security Solutions, Check Point

Avi Rembaum, VP-Security Solutions, Check Point

The BYOD Movement

Currently in the banking industry the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) business strategy is becoming popular and nearly every CIO is looking into it, with some already transitioning to a purely BYOD mobile model. Although there are obvious business benefits to it, including cost savings and greater flexibility for employees, some significant challenges come along with it. One of the biggest challenges companies face is around privacy. Specifically, what level of control does the company have on the BYOD device, given that it is employee-owned. An example of this obvious tension is what if the company installs an anti-malware software on the phone and it interferes with the employee’s ability to play their favorite app off hours. And as a result, the employee disables or deletes the software, jeopardizing the company’s critical business assets.

“It’s critical to stop infections from taking hold on networks in the first place”

The truth is for institutions to be secure from today’s highly sophisticated cyberattacks, every BYOD needs to be treated just like a desktop or laptop with full security controls, including a mobile threat prevention solution. The attack space on mobile devices is so broad that companies are leaving themselves vulnerable if they don’t take a comprehensive, prevention-focused approach, which involves a compromise between employee privacy.

It’s important to note that a mobile device management (MDM) system, designed primarily to manage user permissions and to sync content across different devices, is no longer enough. Comprehensive mobile security management requires several building blocks. In particular, secure containers to prevent data leakage between business and personal applications hosted on the same device, and mobile threat prevention solutions, to protect against malicious app behaviors, are essential. The same known, unknown and even zero-day threats that threaten desktops and laptops now target mobile devices – they need to be protected with the same sophisticated security measures.

We continue to see attacks on mobile devices grow and in the coming months we expect to witness enterprise breaches that originate on mobile devices becoming a more significant corporate security concern. More and more cybercriminals recognize that mobile devices are an easy route into corporate networks. In a Ponemon Institute study of nearly 600 US and UK IT security professionals at Global 2000 companies, 67 percent said it was certain that their organization had experienced a data breach resulting from employees’ use of mobile devices for work. The report also stated that a single mobile device infected with malware can cost an organization an average of $9,485 in losses and remediation. Comprehensive mobile security must deal with challenges ranging from system vulnerabilities to root access and configuration changes, repackaged or fake apps to Trojans, malware and network attacks.

Moving to the Cloud

The opportunity for financial institutions to move to public cloud presents some potentially good business advantages, including cost reduction and opportunities for innovation. However, when banks move to a public cloud, they need to do so in such a way that they take into account the full set of security risks in the exact same way as they would design their data centers. Even if the public cloud providers have the highest standards of security, confidentiality and integrity, they fundamentally operate in ways different from the bank itself, creating security risks. For highest level of protection, the security of the public cloud services, or infrastructure-as-a-service provider, should be owned and designed by the bank for its purposes - meaning the full stack of security controls needs to be integrated for maximum integrity and security.

Given today’s threat landscape – a prevention-focused security strategy is critical

With the number of cyber attacks and malware families increasing, the scale of the challenge institutions face in ensuring their networks remain secure is tremendous. However, the fact that we’re seeing the top malware families stay relatively static in recent months suggests that cyber criminals are enjoying a considerable amount of success with these attack methods, signaling to organizations that they need to proactively respond to protect their critical business assets. To protect themselves, organizations must take a comprehensive approach and have advanced threat prevention measures on networks, endpoints and mobile devices to stop malware at the pre-infection stage to ensure that they are adequately safeguarded.

Many companies rely on a detection approach, leaving themselves highly vulnerable to zero-day attacks and unknown malware – which is constantly being introduced into the threat landscape. Although detection is very important from a response perspective, the recent large-scale DDoS attacks using infected IoT devices highlights the need for organizations to proactively prevent attacks. And given the sheer size of non-IT related devices on a bank’s network, including cameras, printers and fax machines, a detection approach simply doesn’t give the bank the ability to cope, for example a detection strategy could allow an infection to flow across the network to a camera.

It’s critical to stop infections from taking hold on networks in the first place. Next-generation threat prevention solutions can effectively stop new, unknown malware, using advanced sandboxing. This technology provides a safe environment outside the network that mimics an endpoint device, and tests traffic so that files containing malware are blocked before they enter the network. Document sanitization solutions further reinforce defenses by removing active code, such as macros and malicious website links, from all incoming files and documents, defusing any hidden malicious actions. In particular, it is extremely effective in stopping email phishing scams, which are a major cause of bank breaches. These techniques bolster existing signature-based defenses, equipping organizations to prevent attacks from constantly-evolving unknown malware.

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