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CYBERSECURITY: BY FAILING TO PREPARE, YOU ARE PREPARING TO FAIL

By Sarah Armstrong-Smith, Head Continuity & Resilience at Fujitsu UK & Ireland

With increased scrutiny around big businesses, it’s clear that the public are placing serious value on the trustworthiness and honesty of a company. This shift in expectation and perception is indicative of various attacks, breaches and threats that have affected businesses across all verticals, not just financial services.

However, the impact of these breaches on financial services is arguably more serious due to the vast amount of personal and sensitive data that these institutions hold as the exploitation and abuse of data can cause real harm to individuals. This means that as there is more of a shift towards trust as a differentiator, financial services need to be at the forefront of this change.

Sarah Armstrong-Smith

The fact that banks are now publishing the number of operational and security incidents that have occurred is important in this journey. Whilst this voluntary scheme could present a challenge to banks, as they are exposing themselves to criticism, it also presents a great opportunity to showcase their trustworthiness and proactive approach to cybersecurity, as well as establishing their overall framework and approach to operational resilience

It is this aspect of trust that banks and financial services need to adopt and embrace in order to be competitive and to provide confidence to consumers. That’s why banks need to be show their customers that they are proactively managing cybersecurity threats.

Whilst technology may be a factor in some cybersecurity threats, it is also a big part of solution. Financial service institutions need to consider which of the cybersecurity technologies they should be investing in to ensure that they are prepared for an array of threats, rather than reacting to the breach once it has hit. What is clear is the with the pace of change and adoption of innovative technology, financial institutions need to be constantly prepared.

Back to basics

Taking a back to basics approach is an important step for any business when approaching cybersecurity. This involves having a good understanding of the network and all endpoints so that there is a good understanding of the threat landscape.

Cyber Threat Intelligence (CTI) tools can be used as an early warning system to detect and contain potential threats before they become incidents. This intelligence is essential for any businesses as cybersecurity threats become increasingly indiscriminate.

As a business, having an understanding of your cybersecurity and threat landscape is a must. Once you are aware of relevant threats and vulnerabilities, then you will understand where and how these can be exploited and the impact that this may have on the business as well as individuals. CTI gives organisations visibility into their landscape, and identifies which areas need to be mitigated as a priority.

CTI helps businesses to identify threats early on and so help to prepare them, however it is important that this is not the only step that organisations take in safeguarding their business.

Skin deep security

A key factor in securing financial services is in the authentication models that the institution uses. These have become increasingly more complex and sophisticated – for example multi-factor authentication systems for online banking – however there is still more that banks need to be doing to ensure that data is protected.

Biometrics are the next step in secure authentication as they are a reliable, highly accurate and efficient method of confirming a person’s identity. Technology such as palm vein authentication has the ability to help prevent fraud by identifying a person based on traits underneath their skin. As veins are internal and have a wealth of differentiating features, it is very difficult to deceive vein recognition systems.

People first

While technical solutions are a great way of defending against cybersecurity threats, businesses also need to be investing in their employees to ensure they have the skills, awareness and knowledge to recognise and handle security threats. In fact, a report from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and the National Cyber Security Centre   found that in the businesses that had suffered a breach, 57% of incidents had first been spotted by employees. This demonstrates the impact that trained and skilled staff can have on a business.

However, the flip side of this is that one of the most common methods of breaching an organisation is still via phishing as many employees still don’t know how to spot and manage these threats.

Teaching employees cybersecurity skills will not only help in preventing future attacks, it will also create a level of trust between the employees and the employer. Afterall, trust and honesty need to part of the internal culture of the organisation, and it is imperative that we enable people to be the strongest link, rather than the weakest

Final thoughts

In this age of hyper-connectivity, it is no surprise that cybersecurity continues to be a major priority for all industries and businesses, not just financial services, but also that technology holds the key to many of these issues. Businesses need to be proactively putting provisions in place to combat the risk of security threats rather than having to rapidly respond. This includes predicting and responding to an array of threats, as well as continuing to evolve and test the cyber defences

The fact that banks are publishing their operational and security incidents is also a positive step in tacking cyber threats. Whilst this may not directly impact the ability for a company to resist attacks, it will deliver a level of openness and transparency that will increase the levels of trust and confidence with customers.

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Technology

WHY DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION IN FINANCIAL SERVICES IS ABOUT CULTURE FIRST, TECH SECOND

Stuart Templeton, Head of UK at Slack 

 

In today’s world, there’s no such thing as a ‘non-tech fin’. Every financial services company needs to consider itself a fintech in order to bring about the innovation, speed, and transparency that customers expect, and that’s why most are pumping significant investment into their digital transformation efforts.

Part of the challenge faced by traditional incumbent banks is that they rely on legacy core systems that stifle the speed of change. These core systems were not built in an API first era. The good news of course is that the obligations of PSD2 and open banking have gone some way to facilitate future innovation.

While legacy banking platforms do continue to present a technical challenge, the human one can be even greater. Traditional institutions are often faced with the prospect of rebuilding their culture from scratch in the pursuit of becoming digital-first. Like many industries, the fundamental challenge is one of coordination: the creation and maintenance of alignment over time.
Couple this with the fact that the expectations of today’s workforce are changing, then companies in the industry have a real job on their hands. A growing percentage are digital natives, and millenials – who greatly value trust and transparency – make up the largest proportion of the workforce today. So how have businesses in the industry historically ingrained culture, and how does this need to change?

 

Old ways of working – Team A, and Team B

Traditionally, the culture within large financial organisations has been separated by two distinct teams: operations, and tech. They are driven by seemingly opposing forces – one by GANTT charts and lofty business goals, the other by agile software delivery and customer obsession. Often, the two don’t even speak the same language, let alone collaborate and share ideas. Of course there are digital projects, but they aren’t the embodiment of the business, and often tech teams find themselves battling to get buy-in from internal stakeholders who are somewhat removed from those that drive innovation.

Part of the problem is even the notion of having digital transformation projects – there is no such thing in today’s environment – as digital is an overarching movement, and financial services institutions must think of themselves as ‘digital factories’ in order to see a marked change. It is no longer enough to deliver tech updates both internally and externally once every few months, with speed diminished by layers of bureaucracy.

What needs to happen, then, is that these two business segments need to find a way to blend that helps the old incumbents forget their binary ideas of teamship from time gone by and instead let them come together to become one unit. Flattening the established hierarchy so that workers from across all lines of the business can communicate, share ideas and identify problems in real-time is, after all, the key to addressing the transformation gap. They need to think on their feet and iterate as they go: it’s agile thinking, but permeating outside of just the software delivery cycle.

 

Eating the elephant – one bite at a time

The solution, in theory, is relatively simple: companies need to break open the silos of information created by technologies like email and ensure anyone within a business has access to the knowledge and skills they need to make their projects a success. But of course, in practicality, this can present a seemingly insurmountable task.

Using technology to create an agile and transparent working environment that fosters collaboration is key for many financial services organisations that want to see real tangible results from their investments. Digital natives such as TransferWise and Starling Bank are getting this right by prioritising a decentralised business model, one that empowers collaborative working and knowledge sharing that in turn has a positive impact on employee satisfaction and retention.

They do this through collaboration hubs that provide a rich, permanent, searchable record of knowledge for everyone in the organisation.

 

Looking ahead: Team ‘us’ 

Predictions are very difficult, but in five years’ time we can expect to see a greatly altered perception of the financial services industry. We can expect that digital communications tools will continue to play an integral role in the evolution of their workforce culture, helping to bring the right people together internally within the business, as well as strengthening relationships externally with partners and customers alike.

Ultimately, in order to keep learning and improving, banks need to ask questions of themselves as competition and customer demand becomes more fierce: “Why are we doing this?” “What’s the benefit here, and who are we considering in the pursuit of this goal?”

To answer these things, a culture of collaboration and openness is key – underpinned, of course, by the tools that empower it.

 

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Technology

DISPELLING BIOMETRIC MYTHS AND MISCONCEPTIONS

BIOMETRIC

By Lina Andolf-Orup, Head of Marketing at Fingerprints

Gangsters cutting off enemies’ fingers to access secret locations and spies lifting fingerprints from martini glasses – the imagination of the entertainment world has been running wild ever since biometrics entered the scene.

Couple that with the limitations of some early biometric solutions from fifteen years ago, still anchored in the minds of many consumers, and you have the perfect recipe for an apprehensive and uncertain public.

 

Thawing lukewarm attitudes with a biometric touch

The biometrics industry has made great strides in the last few years – something particularly true for smartphones. Fingerprint authentication has replaced PINs and passwords as the most popular way to authenticate on mobile, with 70% of shipped smartphones now featuring biometrics.

And it doesn’t end there. Many adjacent markets are now eager to benefit from the secure and convenient authentication solutions that biometrics offer. Take the payments industry, for example, where biometrics payment cards are currently gathering real momentum.

However, some consumers are still uneasy about accepting biometrics. A recent study found that 56% of US and EU consumers are concerned about the switch to biometrics as it’s not enough understood to be trusted.

Although attitudes are shifting for the better, stats like this demonstrate there is still some work to do to disprove common biometric myths and showcase just how smart today’s solutions really are.

 

Lina Andolf-Orup

Dispel, adopt, repeat

The evolution in consumer biometrics in the last two decades has been phenomenal. And today’s solutions are far more advanced and safe than many may think.

To help bring an end to the myths, let’s expose some of the most common misconceptions around biometrics.

Myth: Biometric data is stored as images in easy-to-hack databases.

A leading myth about biometrics is that when a fingerprint is registered to a device, it is stored as an image of the actual fingerprint. This image can then be stolen and used across applications. In reality, the biometric data is stored as a template in binary code – put simply, encrypted 0s and 1s. Storing a mathematical representation rather than an image makes hacking considerably more challenging. In most consumer applications, this template is also not stored in a cloud-based location, its securely hosted in hardware on the device itself for example in the smartphone, in the payment card. Thus, it stays privately with its owner.

Myth: Fingerprints can be easily replicated to ‘trick’ devices.

The internet is full of articles and videos that claim it is possible to use materials from cello tape to gummy bears to craft fingerprint spoofs and access biometric systems. Although there may have been a time where gummy bear spoofing was the go-to party trick, todays’ consumer biometric authentication solutions have too many technological defences, such as improved image quality and matching algorithms, to simply ‘trick’ devices. Plus, on top this, the criminal needs to have access to the person’s device where this fingerprint is enrolled e.g. smartphone, payment card, before he/she notices and blocks it. This is not scalable nor common, in comparison to gaining access to someone’s PIN code or skimming a contactless card.

Myth: Physical change will prohibit access to my device.

Although our irises don’t change as we age, our fingerprints can and our faces will. Does that mean we have to update our biometric devices every few months to capture these changes? Not quite! Unless there are drastic, sudden changes, the ‘self-learning’ algorithms in modern-day biometric systems are able to keep up with our developing looks.

 

Who you gonna call? Mythbusters!

These are just some of the common biometric myths and misunderstandings perpetuating in consumer mindsets. Thankfully, though, while we’re working hard to rid the world of the myths, belief in the value of biometrics is only expected to grow. But as solutions expand and diversify, the myth-busting fight will continue.

Fingerprints has been a leader of innovation in biometrics for the last two decades. We’re proud of the expertise and R&D we’ve been able to pour into our biometrics solutions to deliver stronger security and a better user-experience. To learn more about the most common biometric misconceptions and the modern-day technology that allows us to dispel them, download our eBook here.

 

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