Connect with us


Fortifying financial services – The must-have cybersecurity incident response plan



By António Vasconcelos, Senior Staff Product Manager, XDR, at SentinelOne


Financial services organisations are prime targets for cyber attacks, as they provide access to a treasure trove of sensitive financial data and often hold significant assets. For bad actors, finance crime does indeed pay, with an average cost of $5.97 million per data breach in the finance industry – the highest of any industry, apart from healthcare.

When it comes to defending against cyberattacks, having a comprehensive incident response plan is a vital, yet often overlooked, line of defence. An incident response plan can help protect critical systems and data and mitigate the damage caused by cyber incidents by outlining procedures for detecting, analysing, and responding to cyber threats quickly and effectively.

But what are the key elements of an effective plan and how can organisations ensure they are prepared against cybersecurity threats?

Understanding cybersecurity as a strategic risk – not a technical one

António Vasconcelos

Finance leaders know that cybersecurity is a key concern, and one that directly affects an organisation’s critical systems. But instead of viewing it as an isolated technical issue, they should see cybersecurity as a critical aspect of their overall business strategy and success. The first step to crafting an effective incident response plan is helping senior leaders understand that cybersecurity risk is a strategic risk, and gaining their buy-in.

This starts with understanding how cybersecurity relates to the organisation’s mission, objectives, and overall risk management strategy. As an example, framing the approach with the help of Simon Sinek’s Golden Circle model can clarify the incident response process for the entire organisation by answering three questions in this order: Why? How? What?

  1. Why” does the organisation need cybersecurity? For example, to protect the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of the organisation’s sensitive financial data and assets
  2. How” can this be achieved? For instance, by approaching cybersecurity holistically, with a focus on people, processes, and technology
  3.  “What” does this mean for the business? E.g., meeting company mission and objectives, building trust with customers, and protecting stakeholder interests

By treating cyber risk as a strategic risk, financial services organisations can empower their teams to take a proactive approach to incident response, rather than a reactive one. Starting with the “why” of cybersecurity helps leaders set the tone for a security-focused culture within the organisation, emphasising the importance of cybersecurity in all business operations.

Key incident response team roles and responsibilities

A cybersecurity incident response team is typically composed of professionals from different departments within the organisation who collaborate to detect security incidents quickly and effectively. Their main objective is to minimise disruption and damage, thereby safeguarding the organisation’s finances and reputation.

Though incident response teams will look different based on the size and needs of the business, they are typically responsible for the following key tasks:

  • Establishing processes, plans & procedures – Customising processes based on the organisation’s defined objectives and purpose, and identifying what constitutes an incident and its impact. This helps develop incident prioritisation matrices and playbooks for relevant security scenarios and ensures that the incident response plan aligns with the organisation’s overall security strategy, enabling effective preparation and response to security incidents.
  • Maintaining an incident response inventory – Staying informed about current cyber threats and having knowledge of all critical assets within the organisation. Additionally, upkeep of the incident analysis resources, such as network diagrams, contact lists, and application inventory, to ensure the success of incident response efforts.
  • Incident Analysis – Carrying out continuous monitoring for indicators of compromise and data collection activities for analysis purposes. If an active incident is detected, incident response teams decide whether to involve third-party support to contain the threat. The security operations centre (SOC) team has a critical role in this area by identifying incident indicators and promptly responding to the situation, reducing mean-time-to-containment and enhancing response to cyber threats. Also, many financial services organisations have started incorporating AI technology into their security infrastructure in recent times.
  • Communications & Reporting – Adhere to established communication protocols that specify what information must be communicated during and after a security incident, when it should be communicated, and to whom it should be communicated. As per their designated roles, the incident response teams may handle both internal and external communications, with guidance from legal and PR teams. Promptly informing relevant parties such as cyber insurance providers, third-party incident support, legal counsel, and regulatory authorities, when necessary, can prevent financial services organisations from incurring legal and financial liabilities.

An incident response team may have overlapping roles, depending on the size, maturity, and nature of the business, but having clear responsibilities for each role is essential to ensure its effectiveness.

Identify where incident response can be improved

Holding ‘lessons learned’ sessions is another crucial component of an effective incident response plan. It can help leaders evaluate incident response performance – identifying challenges and ways to improve capabilities in the future.

Post-incident activities involve analysing the response process to determine what worked and what didn’t. Preparing a log of incidents allows organisations to track the types of incidents they experience and create a benchmark for measuring response effectiveness. Assessing performance against actionable metrics, such as the time it takes to respond to different types of incidents, allows organisations to evaluate the effectiveness of their response process and identify specific areas for improvement.

Regular training and exercises provide teams a safe environment to practise their response plans, identify gaps in their preparedness, and improve their response effectiveness.


Security operations teams play a critical role in reducing the time-to-containment, but it is crucial for organisations to adopt a holistic approach to incident response. Instead of viewing incident response as solely the responsibility of the IT department, organisations should take a top-down approach, where senior leadership fosters a culture of strong security throughout the organisation. In such a culture, every department is encouraged to do its part in supporting incident response efforts.

By building an incident response plan with senior leadership buy-in, defined roles, and post-incident analysis, finance firms can enhance their ability to respond to incidents promptly and effectively, minimising the impact of security incidents and ensuring they can get back to business, faster.


Enhancing cybersecurity in investment firms as new regulations come into force



Christian Scott, COO/CISO at Gotham Security, an Abacus Group Company


The alternative investment industry is a prime target for cyber breaches. February’s ransomware attack on global financial software firm ION Group was a warning to the wider sector. Russia-linked LockBit Ransomware-as-a-Service (RaaS) affiliate hackers disrupted trading activities in international markets, with firms forced to fall back on expensive, inefficient, and potentially non-compliant manual reporting methods. Not only do attacks like these put critical business operations under threat, but firms also risk falling foul of regulations if they lack a sufficient incident response plan. 

 To ensure that firms protect client assets and keep pace with evolving challenges, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has proposed new cybersecurity requirements for registered advisors and funds. Codifying previous guidance into non-negotiable rules, these requirements will cover every aspect of the security lifecycle and the specific processes a firm implements, encompassing written policies and procedures, transparent governance records, and the timely disclosure of all material cybersecurity incidents to regulators and investors. Failure to comply with the rules could carry significant financial, legal, and national security implications.

 The proposed SEC rules are expected to come into force in the coming months, following a notice and comment period. However, businesses should not drag their feet in making the necessary adjustments – the SEC has also introduced an extensive lookback period preceding the implementation of the rules, meaning that organisations should already be proving they are meeting these heightened demands.

For investment firms, regulatory developments such as these will help boost cyber resilience and client confidence in the safety of investments. However, with a clear expectation that firms should be well aligned to the requirements already, many will need to proactively step up their security oversight and strengthen their technologies, policies, end-user education, and incident response procedures. So, how can organisations prepare for enforcement and maintain compliance in a shifting regulatory landscape?


Changing demands

In today’s complex, fast-changing, and interconnected business environment, the alternative investment sector must continually take account of its evolving risk profile. Additionally, as more and more organisations shift towards more distributed and flexible ways of working, traditional protection perimeters are dissolving, rendering firms more vulnerable to cyber-attack.    

As such, the new SEC rules provide firms with additional instruction around very specific prescriptive requirements. Organisations need to implement and maintain robust written policies and procedures that closely align with ground-level security issues and industry best practices, such as the NIST Cybersecurity framework. Firms must also be ready to gather and present evidence that proves they are following these watertight policies and procedures on a day-to-day basis. With much less room for ambiguity or assumption, the SEC will scrutinise security policies for detail on how a firm is dealing with cyber risks. Documentation must therefore include comprehensive coverage for business continuity planning and incident response.

 As cyber risk management comes increasingly under the spotlight, firms need to ensure it is fully incorporated as a ‘business as usual’ process. This involves the continual tracking and categorisation of evolving vulnerabilities – not just from a technology perspective, but also from an administrative and physical standpoint. Regular risk assessments must include real-time threat and vulnerability management to detect, mitigate, and remediate cybersecurity risks.  

Another crucial aspect of the new rules is the need to report any ‘material’ cybersecurity incidents to investors and regulators within a 48-hour timeframe – a small window for busy investment firms. Meeting this tight deadline will require firms to quickly pull data from many different sources, as the SEC will demand to know what happened, how the incident was addressed, and its specific impacts. Teams will need to be assembled well in advance, working together seamlessly to record, process, summarise, and report key information in a squeezed timeframe.

Funds and advisors will also need to provide prospective and current investors with updated disclosures on previously disclosed cybersecurity incidents over the past two fiscal years. With security leaders increasingly being held to account over lack of disclosure, failure to report incidents at board level could even be considered an act of fraud. 


Keeping pace

Organisations must now take proactive steps to prepare and respond effectively to these upcoming regulatory changes. Cybersecurity policies, incident response, and continuity plans need to be written up and closely aligned with business objectives. These policies and procedures should be backed up with robust evidence that shows organisations are actually following the documentation – firms need to prove it, not just say it. Carefully thought-out policies will also provide the foundation for organisations to evolve their posture as cyber threats escalate and regulatory demands change.

 Robust cybersecurity risk assessments and continuous vulnerability management must also be in place. The first stage of mitigating a cyber risk is understanding the threat – and this requires in-depth real-time insights on how the attack surface is changing. Internal and external systems should be regularly scanned, and firms must integrate third-party and vendor risk assessments to identify any potential supply chain weaknesses.

 Network and cloud penetration testing is another key tenet of compliance. By imitating how an attacker would exploit a vantage point, organisations can check for any weak spots in their strategy before malicious actors attempt to gain an advantage. Due to the rise of ransomware, phishing, and other sophisticated cyber threats, social engineering testing should be conducted alongside conventional penetration testing to cover every attack vector.

It must also be remembered that security and compliance is the responsibility of every person in the organisation. End-user education is a necessity as regulations evolve, as is multi-layered training exercises. This means bringing in immersive simulations, tabletop exercises and real-world examples of security incidents to inform employees of the potential risks and the role they play in protecting the company.

 To successfully navigate the SEC cybersecurity rules – and prepare for future regulatory changes – alternative investment firms must ensure that security is woven into every part of the business. They can do this by establishing robust written policies and adhesion, conducting regular penetration testing and vulnerability scanning, and ensuring the ongoing education and training of employees.

Continue Reading


How to think like an attacker & why it might be critical to your security strategy




Kam Karaji, Global Head of Information Security for Bibby Financial Services, argues at DTX Manchester that the most successful way to keep attackers at bay is to get into the same mindset and calls for the finance industry to fight back as a team.

Since the global pandemic, cybersecurity breaches have been at an all-time high.

With businesses suffering threats from ransomware to phishing to personal identity data attacks – a proactively search for solutions is ongoing. According to Panaseer, nearly a third of security leaders say a lack of visibility of sensitive data can impact a business’s ability to comply with regulatory requirements and nearly 90% say they don’t have adequate visibility of the data they are required to protect.

One trending topic at DTX was that cyber attackers mainly pinpoint a weakness within the business’s security system and use it as a weapon. Attack surface reduction (ASR) can slow and shut down a cyber attack attempting to steal a user’s credentials. This is available on Windows software and can easily be enabled. Businesses would benefit from making each employee aware of ASR as it eliminates any kind of weakness by targeting software behaviours often abused by attackers.

Detecting, intercepting and remediating threats at great speed and scale is vital for businesses as reducing the number of threats made against analytics and user data must be a top priority. Most security teams are not available to work for companies around the clock and so threats have an increased chance of being successful.

Within finance, security breaches are not an option. PIDs are a must-have within the company’s s security culture as clients have to be the most protected. Without client trust, a business risks having its reputation tarnished.

Cybersecurity automation is the most viable option as it can benefit the business in a number of ways. It’s cost-efficient for a start. Enhanced automation security systems, reduce workload, which means you don’t need as many cybersecurity professionals to o monitor systems or perform a manual analysis. It reduces the risk of human error. Automation is key for targeting threats at speed and scale and provides automatic threat intelligence and analysis as it stores logs of human activity and supplies s insights into how attacks are affecting the business overall.

According to the 2022 Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report, ransomware attacks surged dramatically in 2022 and ransomware was involved in 25% of all breaches. It is absolutely crucial l for businesses to communicate with every employee on each step of the cyber security process. This avoids a blast radius attack as businesses tend to only have one security team when they would see a bigger benefit in blending each of the roles together.

Businesses are now beginning to invest in cyber security attack simulations to provide a better training experience for all employees. Every member of staff needs to be involved so that the business isn’t under threat for longer than it needs to be. It’s worth noting that attacks can sit silently on the system for months before they are accurately identified and dealt with.

In a recent survey by Apricorn(, a third of respondents admitted to not backing up data to a second off-site location. Of those that do, over 30% are backing up to the cloud and just over 20% are relying on storage devices to keep secondary backups.  Any cyber security hack will be able to infiltrate any on-site backup plans, so the safest option is to have an offline plan.

Most businesses are not confident in offline back-ups as they must be checked and updated frequently with new data. To add extra resilience to the process, businesses must revisit the offline backup plan before it goes live.

Help Net Security discovered in 2022 that supply chain attacks surpassed the number of malware-based attacks by 40%. According to the report, more than 10 million people were impacted by supply chain attacks targeting c1700 organisations. By comparison, 70 malware-based cyber attacks affected 4.3 million people.

The most important and effective way of avoiding a supply chain attack, as discussed at DTX, is to understand your supply chain from start to finish as each one differs by industry. Identifying the common denominator in the supply chain attacks can help to drastically change the security posture, and ensure businesses are better prepared and protected and more likely to flourish.

Continue Reading



Business13 hours ago

Enhancing cybersecurity in investment firms as new regulations come into force

Christian Scott, COO/CISO at Gotham Security, an Abacus Group Company   The alternative investment industry is a prime target for...

Technology14 hours ago

How to think like an attacker & why it might be critical to your security strategy

Kam Karaji, Global Head of Information Security for Bibby Financial Services, argues at DTX Manchester that the most successful way...

Business14 hours ago

Building a sustainable future – what’s on your agenda for 2023?

The most successful and progressive leaders are embracing ESG or Environmental, Social and Governance principles throughout their businesses, but how...

Banking14 hours ago

Digital Acceleration – the next buzzword in banking tech? Or a new era for the industry?

Ove Kreison, CTO at Tuum McKinsey’s latest report on banking found that traditional banks are spending a whopping 85% of their...

Business14 hours ago

One year until EMIR Refit: how can firms prepare? 

Leo Labeis, CEO at REGnosys, discusses everything that financial institutions need to know about EMIR Refit and how they can...

Business20 hours ago

In the Name of the Family! Firms with CEOs under clan culture influence are much more likely to be internationally focused

In an increasingly globalised world, it is incredibly rare that a firm can expect to grow in the long-term unless...

Finance20 hours ago

Regulations, RegTech and CBDCs – Fintech’s Next Chapter 

Teresa Cameron, Finance Director at Clear Junction    Over the last decade, the UK has embraced the fintech revolution with...

Business1 day ago

Gearing up for growth amid economic pressure: 10 top tips for maintaining control of IT costs

  By Dirk Martin, CEO and Founder of Serviceware   Three years on from the pandemic and economic pressure is...

News2 days ago

Find Your Tribe With Content Marketing

Ian is the CMO at Spotler Group   Seth Godin, a writer, speaker, marketing expert, and influencer, describes audiences as tribes,...

Finance2 days ago

The formula for success: delivering total experience in financial services

  Monica Hovsepian, Global Industry Strategist, OpenText   The tumult of the last few years has thrown many challenges at...

Finance2 days ago

How financial organisations can ensure their data is protected in a SaaS world 

Mark Molyneux, EMEA CTO at Cohesity   The rapid expansion of Software as a Service (SaaS) has changed how we...

Business2 days ago

How freelancers can support the flexible future of the workplace

By Charlotte Gregson, Country Head UK at Malt   The concept of the workplace is changing and not just in...

Banking3 days ago

Banking on legacy – The risks posed by ‘stone age’ banking infrastructure

By Andreas Wuchner, Angel Investor of Venari Security   Introduction If you consider the most significant motivating factors behind cyber-attacks...

Business3 days ago

Beyond the Plastic Era: How Virtual Payments and Digital Wallets are Changing the Way We Pay

Nick Holt, Senior Director Solutions Engineering at Marqeta   In 2017, debit cards overtook cash as the most frequently used...

News3 days ago

Mambu and Mia-FinTech announce collaboration to accelerate introduction of digital finance solutions

Mia-FinTech, the fintech startup that enables banking and financial institutions to evolve towards open finance, and Mambu, a leading cloud...

Finance4 days ago

GDPR – the benchmark for a global privacy framework

by Alasdair Anderson, VP EMEA, Protegrity On the 5th anniversary of GDPR, the regulation continues to be a game-changer, setting the...

Finance4 days ago

Why real-time data remains a top priority for treasurers

Real-time data is vital for treasury teams, and this will continue as currency markets remain volatile and other crises threaten....

Finance4 days ago

Cross border payments: fact or friction?

Tom Scampion, CEO of Global Screening Services (GSS)   10 years ago, the fastest way to transfer money from country...

Business4 days ago

Compliance and customer experience: It’s not a trade-off

Tage Borg, CTO, Scrive Consumers today are used to smooth, instant transactions made in real time and free from the...

News4 days ago

Dubai Traders Summit 2023 concludes with great success

The Forex Traders Summit Dubai 2023 – Third Edition, a two-day event held on May 17-18, 2023, at The Ritz-Carlton,...