The Precarious State of Cybersecurity In The Financial Services Sector

It seems as though our economy bounces gleefully from one financial crisis to the next. By now, you’re probably not even surprised to hear that there’s another one on the horizon – at least, according to experts. Of course, you’re probably starting to tune most of those experts out, as well.
The debate over precisely what will cause our economy to collapse in the immediate future is one that’s been raging ever since there was an economy.
“Determining what the next crisis will look like is a lot like talking to a bunch of blind people who are petting an elephant,” muses CNBC’s Bob Pisani. “Their impression of the elephant depends on what part of the elephant they are touching…They may all be [right], but the cyberattack angle is getting a lot of attention as a potential source of serious disruption.”
In other words, you should start paying attention to the ongoing debate – because the next major incident in financial services could have more to do with IT than you might think.
If there’s one thing cybercriminals have taught us, it’s how fragile some of our most critical infrastructure can actually be. With the right knowledge and tools, a state actor could shut down water treatment facilities and power plants. With the right techniques, a hacker could steal the identity of just about anyone – and there’d be little they could do about it.
The financial services sector, muses Pisani, is particularly vulnerable in that regard. A hacker looking to cause chaos could target a lynchpin bank whose services are of systematic importance to other organizations in financial services. If they were able to shut down the bank’s key services and damage or destroy its data, we’d see a domino effect.
A financial catastrophe.
We need to nip this problem in the bud before it gets too serious. There are a couple things cybersecurity professionals in financial services – and in other industries, as well – need to do in that regard. First and foremost, one word: redundancy.
If your firm provides critical services of any kind, you cannot rely on a single service provider. You need failover plans for literally every eventuality, and data backups that can weather virtually any kind of attack.
Second, firms and their staff need to be held to a higher standard by cybersecurity professionals. The Equifax breach was, to be frank, an embarrassment. It should never have happened. It only brought a professional security firm in after the fact – you need to ensure your organization doesn’t make the same mistake.
We all do. Maybe we can’t prevent the next major financial crisis. But what we can do is ensure that the crisis doesn’t stem from a firm that couldn’t be bothered with cybersecurity.

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