Andrew Edison of Level 3 Communications discusses what financial organisations need do to protect themselves in the face of increasing cyber-threats, whilst meeting customer expectations during the on-demand revolution.
The financial sector has seen a considerable increase in demand for online services from customers, with 80% of the UK banking population now using some form of online banking service, according to Accenture.
This growth will put increased pressure on existing systems, and as financial services companies look to improve their offerings in line with customer expectations, any new service or improvement will require an upgrade to the back-end technology and underlying network. To keep customers happy, the network infrastructure needs to be fast, secure and able to cope with the levels of data processing required to deliver a great customer experience.
Cloud technology allows financial organisations to meet these demands. As a result, more financial organisations are adopting it as a secure and efficient solution which enables them to adhere to strict regulations, whilst offering further value to customers. However, to implement this technology effectively, the financial sector must consider three key elements: security, scalability and performance.
The importance of security
Over two thirds of banking CEOs identify cyber insecurity as a threat to their growth, according to the British Banking Association (BBA). This, partnered with the fact that 70 percent of data breaches are not detected by companies, emphasises the importance of a robust, multi-layer security approach for financial organisations.
The cloud is an important consideration in a multi-layer security approach. Cyber-criminals are swiftly taking advantage of the ability to get hold of sensitive customer data from the cloud.
Similarly, use of cloud technologies can enable hackers to gain access to business critical apps allowing them to disrupt an organisation’s day-to-day operations.
In order to consider moving sensitive customer data and business critical apps into the cloud, financial organisations need to be confident in the security of a private network ecosystem and advanced security services. The right private network connection can enable this security whilst connecting financial organisations with major cloud providers around the world, such as Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft Azure. These services offer flexibility by allowing organisations to work with a variety of cloud providers. This diversity helps ensure the safe and efficient migration of sensitive content, as well as the delivery and utilisation of business-critical cloud-based services.
Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) mitigation is also a critical part of a multi-layered security approach as it provides network-based, on-demand protection with round the clock monitoring. Cyber-criminals will often apply DDoS attacks to distract the IT teams of financial organisations while inserting malware into the companies’ back-end systems to access data and intercept wire transfers. Use of a mitigation solution will help financial organisations avoid these infiltrations and further anticipate developing trends so they can protect themselves against new threats before they escalate.
Scalability and globalisation
Increasing globalisation means that financial organisations constantly have to interact with individuals and companies drawn from markets all over the world. This makes cloud an ideal technology as it does not depend on access to a local server but efficient and fast cloud access requires businesses to be able to scale bandwidth up or down in-line with changing needs.
Software Defined Networking (SDN) allows this scalability by automating financial organisations’ networks. It ensures that resource demands are met in real-time by allowing applications to be accessed quickly and easily depending on which solution is needed.
This is crucial for the financial industry. The increasing volumes of customer data the industry generates would typically choke their network services, consequently impacting end user service delivery. The adaptive nature of SDN improves the user experience, giving financial organisations confidence in their ability to respond to the growth of mobile data and on demand services.
What’s more, the administration teams within financial organisations still have complete control over the network traffic, and have clear visibility into costs associated with time of day and location usage. This allows them to better control costs.
Increasing storage of customer data in the cloud combined with the movement of business critical apps has placed greater pressures on businesses to have robust networks in place which can ensure greater uptime and responsiveness.
Speed of content delivery is particularly important as customers expect to have their financial information available on demand and immediately accessible. If financial organisations are not offering this speed of delivery, customers will become unsatisfied and potentially consider moving to another financial provider.
This need for immediacy can be achieved by storing critical data - which is likely to be used frequently - close to its local destination. The distance data has to travel is vital when considering the speed of delivery, so the closer data is to the end user, the faster and more efficient the transfer will be.
A hybrid approach to cloud technology can offer a solution to this challenge. A private connection can be used for the transfer of sensitive information and customer data, while a secure public connection can be used for movement of less sensitive internal data, speeding up the overall delivery of all assets.
Adapt or decline
The on demand economy in the financial sector is evolving rapidly and it can make the operations of a financial organisation a whole lot easier – equally however, those who don’t adopt an appropriate approach to handle this demand will find things a whole lot harder.
It has never been more important to have the correct infrastructure and supporting technologies in place. Financial organisations must ensure they choose the right provider when adopting the cloud. To properly adapt to the on demand economy, it is not just about being connected to the cloud, but being safely and efficiently connected.
If financial organisations have the right technologies in place, they can safely connect to the cloud whilst satisfying customer needs and safeguarding not only customer data, but also the reputation of the organisation itself.
By Andrew Edison, Senior Vice President Sales, EMEA, Level 3