Over the past several years, the industry has been impacted by a marked increase in data breaches, ransomware, card fraud, cybersecurity threats, and other malicious attacks. Additionally, an increase in devices connected to networks has made it critical for financial institutions to strengthen their security strategies and policies to ensure all systems are up to date to effectively combat today’s threats.
While history has shown that well-designed single-focus solutions are useful in stopping specific attacks, the capabilities of advanced attacks are now so broad and sophisticated that a single line of defense inevitably fails—opening the way to costly data breaches and other malicious attacks.
To establish a secure IT network and be better protected in today’s digital world, banks and credit unions need to employ a strategy that places many uniquely tailored layers throughout their networks, from the end user to the internet. By employing multiple controls, security layers ensure that gaps or weaknesses in one control, or layer of controls, are compensated for by others.
According to our third annual report, “2019 IT Outlook for Community Banking,” community banks and credit unions are taking this advice to heart and do, in fact, have various security solutions in place to help protect their networks, including:
The most widely used solution is the firewall. Firewalls have served as part of a network-perimeter defense for more than three decades. However, over the years, as technology and threats change, firewalls must also evolve to keep pace. To ensure they are up to date and able to combat today’s threats, many are adding key functionality to their firewalls as well. According to survey results, 52% of respondents are adding SSL inspection to enhance their solution; 48% are adding sandboxing, threat intelligence feeds, and built-in network automation.
Anti-Virus software has been a staple for many organizations since the launch of the internet 25 years ago. It is imperative to have up-to-date anti-virus protection on your systems at all times. Ensuring all subscriptions are current will prevent you from getting viruses such as spyware, malware, rootkits, Trojans, phishing attacks, spam attack and other online cyber-threats. Anti-virus solutions are as important as ever.
In addition to the firewall and anti-virus software, many banks and credit unions implement a level of encryption over all data, files and transactions. Encoding sensitive data helps prevent hackers from easily accessing information. This form of protection has grown increasingly popular with 84% of survey respondents claiming to be utilizing this security measure today.
Increasingly, banks and credit unions are recognizing employee training as an important security mechanism with 78% of survey respondents citing it. Employees who are not adequately trained on security protocols, procedures, and current issues can quickly become a top vulnerability and security threat for financial institutions. According to survey results, 100% of respondents claim that their employees have fallen victim to a phishing attack in the last 12 months and have been affected by a malware infection. To best mitigate these threats, training for all employees—from tellers and loan officers to the President and CEO—is critical. Thorough training should now include rigorous testing to ensure employees are able to spot security issues.
To quickly identify internal threats, network security solutions must now scan and monitor more than just servers. Vulnerability scanning gives community banks and credit unions greater visibility into the network and identifies potential threats on all workstations and devices connected to the network. Banks and credit unions now understand the importance of scans, and 51% of survey respondents perform these scans several times a year.
Other security solutions highlighted in the report include patch management, intelligence feeds, security event log monitoring, endpoint security management, DNS filtering, anti-ransomware, and honeypots.
While all of these solutions have proven to be effective security layers, there is no single security product that will cover all of an institution’s needs and efficiently combat the variety of breaches and attacks the industry sees today. It is essential to implement a layered security approach and select security defenses that fit closely with your institution’s long-term goals as well as support your IT and compliance strategies.
For more information, download our 2019 IT Outlook for Community Banking report.