Why zero trust is essential for protecting financial services organisations in the new workforce

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Digital transformation and acceleration have significant impacts on how people live and work. Day-to-day, technology advancements have led to an increasingly connected global society, with people relying on phones and other mobile devices to communicate, order groceries, and conduct online banking among other things. On an organisational front, the increased adoption of hybrid and remote working practices has changed how workers communicate and collaborate across dispersed working environments. 

For the financial services industry (FSI), the two intersect with growing numbers of financial services organisations (FSOs) conducting business online, reflecting the rising popularity of online banking. By 2024, it’s predicted that just 39 per cent of consumers globally expect their banking interactions to be with a human. Meanwhile, 61 per cent of consumers expect their banking business to be digital, with the biggest projected increases coming from mobile and ATMs. At the same time, reports indicate that the use of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) will drive the Asia Pacific financial services market forward.

While the rising popularity of digital technologies and services makes life and business easier, they also come with inherent risks. The biggest risk of all is the fundamental risk they pose to security; data shows that digital trust and security is the biggest strategic area of interest for FSOs at 48 per cent [Accelerating Transformation Through Cybersecurity in Financial Services, IDC, 2021].

Building defence from the ground level

FSOs are aware that the increase in digital activity will lead to an increased threat from cybercriminals, and the data certainly shows this. The Australian financial sector was second only to the healthcare industry in terms of notifiable breaches for July to December 2021, according to the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner’s (OAIC) Notifiable Data Breaches Report.

Understanding that there is a growing risk is one thing. Identifying and taking steps to mitigate the risks is a different challenge and one that can seem particularly overwhelming for such a risk-averse industry. It can be tempting for organisations to take a piecemeal approach to cybersecurity, addressing one challenge at a time. In fact, on average, organisations use 45 security solutions across their network; however, this can create complexities and expose gaps and vulnerabilities that can be exploited.

Instead, security needs to be woven into transformation efforts from the ground level, to ensure that all innovation and transformation efforts are conducted securely. This means including security as consideration from a project's inception, not as a band-aid fix at the end, or as a way to tie up a project in a bow once its services are launched.

One of the most fundamentally effective ways FSOs can strengthen their cybersecurity posture and reduce their risk of a breach is by moving towards a strategic mesh security approach that leverages zero trust network access (ZTNA) in its foundation. Taking a mesh or fabric approach can, according to Gartner, “reduce the financial impact of individual security incidents by an average of 90 per cent.” Fortinet’s approach to this challenge leverages its security fabric, which includes more than 50 security and networking technologies that interweave with each other to improve resilience significantly.

The Fortinet solution

To reduce complexities and the potential for gaps to be exploited, security must be unified across all services, devices, networks, and clouds, including core, edges, cloud, software-defined wide area network (SD-WAN), secure access service edge (SASE), and ZTNA.

Fortinet’s security fabric approach delivers this seamlessly, helping to reduce complexity and increase the effectiveness of security platforms as networks continue to expand and environments become more distributed and dynamic.

The Fortinet approach delivers a seamless security solution that is both automated and integrated with common policies, including security operations centres (SOCs), network operations centres (NOCs), and compliance operations centres (COCs) to achieve optimum resilience. In addition, it also helps organisations to fully integrate security information and event management (SIEM), and security orchestration, automation, and response (SOAR) technologies. Ultimately, this helps FSOs gain a more robust and comprehensive security solution from the ground level, which lets them build a stronger security posture that permeates the entire organisation.

To find out more about the latest cybersecurity trends, challenges and solutions, visit our bespoke Financial Services Hub for Australia and New Zealand

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