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The Importance of Threat Intelligence for Financial Industry

Posted on September 30, 2019
The Importance of Threat Intelligence for Financial Industry

These days, there are a lot of security pressures on financial institutions like banks, insurance firms and payment processing platforms. Since many of the financial operations are performed through cyberspace, cybersecurity becomes a paramount issue to be considered. Much of the data and intangible assets held by Financial Service Institutions (FSI) are sensitive, and a leak or hack into those assets would make the institutions and their administrations highly vulnerable. The financial industry and services are among the 5 most attacked in cyberspace. Phishing and the misuse of privilege are both the topmost threats for financial institutions, according to the 2019 Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR). About 28.9% of reported phishing attacks were directed towards financial institutions and related customers. To ensure timely and consistent protection of their data and other assets, the industry should consider Threat Intelligence (TI) as an important part of their IT security strategy.

Cyber Threat Intelligence collects new and existing threats from different sources around the network system and produces reports whose information can then be indexed for an automated and prioritized security control protocol. TI repeatedly performs routine checks and scans various data servers to detect and report anomalies. The following points are highlights of how the financial industry can benefit from TI.

Preparation For Data and Asset Protection

FSIs must protect customer data, as well as their assets, including funds. A TI system functions as a sensor for malicious IP addresses or domain that may be breaching into your financial network to obtain information. Being one of the most targeted cyber industry for cyber-attacks, FSIs have to stay on top of all threats and activities. Moreover, with millions of threats, a proper TI system can help you boost your defence system. A sophisticated system uses a data log of previous activities and predictions to prevent breaches from infiltrating IPs and sources that may want to steal data. It helps institutions to implement attack trees for advanced threat protection on networks, servers, and even point of sales.

Help To Develop Stronger Industry-based Defence Mechanism

TI makes threat intelligence sharing feasible and definitive. Various threat intelligence software collect data from FSIs and report them to the developers for the benefit of reinforcing their software to know about new malicious cyber activities as they come up. This is an advisable measure for various financial institutions in the industry because the information log collected from new attempts of attacks will help software developers and users to prevent such attacks and take necessary steps to avoid the breach. With threat intelligence sharing, financial institutions will benefit when their industry and industry-targeted software developers, with the right data, will build strong anti-malware defence mechanism.

Furthermore, since malicious actors will be making attempts to use similar techniques and threat approach for different organizations in the industry, TI sharing can help other institutions in the industry as well. Groups of businesses are now developing shared networks where discovered threats are reported and made public to everyone in the same sector. The reports will help the security departments of the financial organizations to block related malicious threats or attacks and penetration before they are hit. It can also help them understand the trends of cybercrimes in the industry and learn to defend their financial data against reported attacks and prioritize them so that security teams will know things to look out for and take quality action.

Efficiency

Anti-malware programs ceaselessly perform thousands and millions of search queries to check various server nodes that may be prone to attacks, for threats. This helps financial institutions to stay on top of the mass of threat notifications. With TI, a Security Operations Centre (SOCs) analyst can have an automated response to unharmful alerts as ‘false positive’, which improves efficiency. TI generally improves response time to any Indicator of Compromise (IoC); thereby saving the SOC of a financial institution some stress and allowing them to focus on other activities of concern. Because of the delicate nature of data assets, promptness is the heart and soul of a financial institution's security protocol.

Managing Vulnerability

For a financial institution, the pride of SOCs is not in the numbers of vulnerabilities patched, because threats and vulnerabilities never end. The conspicuousness of the industry makes vulnerability management a task of top priority. And the pride of any FSI is that they can stop an attack before it happens; not how many patches they have been able to apply. With thousands and millions of daily notifications of potential threats (the largest potential threat notifications for any industry), FSI security teams can effectively manage their vulnerability points to protect their financial data, assets, and point of sale services.

Overview Of Security Level

TI provides an overview of the security situation of an organization to the IT departments. This security situation and report helps a financial organization to find out what their vulnerabilities are, how much they need to invest in their cybersecurity and how critical the level of their security is. Partial or a complete automation process will help to turn the available information and insights into actionable intelligence for financial organizations.

Real-time Insights

Payment platforms have more reasons to be conscious of their securities because their networks are more exposed for the public to access. The awareness of threats with standard TI tools will help them to update patches and to secure various end-points across functioning networks.

In the face of these benefits, FSI will do well to invest in Threat Intelligence that provides a comprehensive view of their internal vulnerabilities, combined with looking into external evolving threats. Also, adequate coverage should be done for data, at all times, and to keep protection active over many years because bad actors are constantly devising ways to hack into security systems of financial enterprises.

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