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The path to Zero Trust and Passwordless in Banking & Financial Services

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What Are the Biggest Challenges in Financial Services Data Security?

From all industries, Financial Services is the one that has been affected by cyberattacks the most, including phishing scams and other types of online fraud. This is why the financial sector grew to become one of the best-protected industries on the market.

Even though cybersecurity continues to improve, cybercriminals keep up by targeting the weakest link in the defenses: people.

Social engineering comes down to tricking people into performing actions or sharing information which they normally would not perform or share. It has become one of the most popular buzzwords among cybersecurity professionals.

Why Is Social Engineering so Dangerous?

A well-engineered attack usually involves a bait or a threat, which are typically reinforced by a call to action and a false sense of urgency. In fact, receiving an email or a call which employ these tactics should always trigger suspicion. It is important to recognize those telltale signs because such attacks usually result in passing some classified information to the attacker.

Attacks on C-level executives (whaling attacks) are more difficult to prepare and often take months of planning and executing.

However, attacks on lower-level employees can also damage the business and are easier to carry out, which is why they are much more common.

Why Are Attacks on Low-Level Employees Equally Dangerous?

Most people who work in sales at financial institutions access sensitive data on a daily basis. An insurance agent, a real estate broker, or a financial advisor, they all work with sensitive data, such as sales levels and commissions. They also frequently perform sensitive operations on client profiles.

The Pareto principle clearly applies here: 20% of the information accessible by a user can cause 80% of all problems that result from a leak or theft. Therefore, even a small breach can cause major issues.

A vast majority of companies grant access to either all data or no data. Usually, they do not have readily applicable mechanisms to help supervise access to sensitive information; thus, there are many ways in which things may go wrong.

Thus there are many ways in which things can go wrong.

Let’s assume now that Anna works in a bank as a sales representative. She is not going to meet her sales goals and get the commission she wants, so she tries to find a workaround. She decides to share her account with another sales agent who has the same problem. Now Anna can win the commission for herself and then split it with the second agent under the table.

Some actions performed by the workforce may be dangerous, some may be illegal, and some may simply be worth tracking down. The more you know, the more informed security decisions you can make. Given the multitude of possible scenarios, financial institutions should consider adopting solutions they can quickly introduce in order to avoid the mentioned risks.

How Can Financial Services Easily
Increase Authentication Security

Finding balance between data protection and user comfort has always been the key element of data security.

The two biggest challenges security teams in financial institutions are faced with are the following:

1. How to increase the level of security without inconveniencing the users?

People always look for ways to make their lives easier. That is why if they can skip a security procedure that makes them lose too much precious time, they surely will.

2. How to increase the level of security without breaking the bank?

The budget available for data security is usually increased after a bad breach, a phishing theft, a data loss, or anything of the kind has happened. Usually only then do CEOs decide to invest money in the data protection space.

That being said, let’s pose the question: what’s the remedy?

We call it “microauthorizations”.

Microauthorizations from Secfense are almost unnoticeable to users. At the same time, they substantially increase user security level.

Microauthorizations are designed to easily add extra authorization steps in the application, wherever it is necessary and without meddling with the application code.

With microauthorizations, it is possible to:

  • track and register every attempt of accessing specific company resources
  • thus removing the risk of compromising sensitive information
  • without making the authorization process complicated
  • and without meddling with the code of the protected app

It really can be that simple.

To learn more about microauthorizations see this brief showcase

On our channel, you will also find a complete 2FA deployment performed on Amazon.com and executed in minutes.

Why Introduce a Strong Authentication Process in Banks and Financial Institutions?

Most two-factor authentication methods rely on a secondary passcode to verify user identity, which is a significant improvement over using only the login and password. Overall, 2FA increases the security level, but not all the methods are equally effective. Some advanced attacks (e.g., Modlishka and Evilginx2) can bypass older 2FA methods.

In contrast to the weaker 2FA methods, the FIDO2 authentication standard introduces a physical device to the process. In order to pass authentication, employees need to use that physical authenticator. This authentication method is the strongest one available and has not yet been compromised.

Since Google implemented U2F (the predecessor of FIDO2) in 2017, not a single one of its 89,000 employees has become a victim of a phishing scam.

The biggest reason why FIDO2 had not become the gold security standard was its cost. Implementing FIDO2 used to entail a long and difficult coding process. Worse still, the maintenance costs and a vendor lock-in had to be considered. Those often proved to be sufficient reasons for not introducing FIDO2.

Now it is possible to deploy FIDO2 in a matter of minutes and at a fraction of its former cost. What is more, financial institutions do not have to share any data with third parties anymore since it is possible to add FIDO2 on top of the existing infrastructure.

At Secfense, we have developed technology that allows any two-factor authentication method to be adopted in a matter of minutes.

No developers, no contractors, and no third-party codes are required; therefore, there is no risk of a vendor-lock. The protection is based on an extra security layer that enables strong authentication in any app without meddling with its code.

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