Five ways financial services firms can adopt a proactive approach to protecting your IT environment

Our Blogs 5th August, 2021

Vulnerability management

Bound by heavy regulations and entrusted with highly personal customer information, IT security may be the most crucial aspect of your digital transformation as a financial services firm.

Data from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) proves IT vulnerabilities and exposures are rising at a rate of 37% each year. In 2020 alone, more than 18,000 common vulnerabilities and exposures were disclosed – and more than 68% of them don’t require any user interaction!

We’ve seen real world proof of these vulnerabilities in a range of high profile attacks such as Solar Winds, Microsoft, and the recent 4th of July ransomware attack. A US insurance firm was hit by a cyberattack that disrupted employee and customer services for 3 days in March while, in February, a venture capital company reported that personal and financial information had been jeopardised following a data breach.

These troubling statistics are highly concerning for all financial services firms who are particularly exposed due to:

  • increased remote working
  • customer demands to access data remotely via apps
  • new malware attacks targeting banks and lenders

As financial services companies work harder than ever to deliver or manage these, they not only struggle with data protection and compliance considerations, but the ever-increasing attack surface that accompanies each of these elements.

Keeping up can feel like an insurmountable feat – particularly when in-house IT teams may lack the understanding and definitely the time to give it the attention it demands.

This is where leveraging specific IT tools to solve complex IT issues is particularly essential for organisations that struggle with security, privacy and compliance concerns.

Using vulnerability tools to support security and compliance

Vulnerability tools scan your entire IT environment looking for weaknesses. This proactive approach to identifying security or compliance gaps is vital within the financial services sector, where dangerous new threats arise daily.

5 key ways that vulnerability management is considered essential for financial services providers include:

Continuous monitoring

Potential vulnerabilities can arise any time, so your vulnerability tool should be working 24/7. A recent Cisco report showed 87% of compromises took a minute or less, with over two-thirds of compromises going undiscovered for months or more.

While many organisations do have vulnerability tools operating in the background, the scans generally culminate in a report being emailed to someone in IT who then needs to action it.

If it takes a while for the report to be read and actioned, it can lead to systemic issues that ultimately have a huge impact on your environment. Consider what we saw fairly recently with the Microsoft Exchange server attack.

Criticality and exposure of each asset

With a network of branches and locations across regions, states, and the nation, financial services businesses can have thousands of assets and potentially hundreds of vulnerabilities at any given time. So knowing where to direct your attention is crucial to ensure you take action where and when it really matters.

While some advanced vulnerability tools do prioritise threats, they often fail to identify the context of a threat which enables you to prioritise how quickly it needs to be addressed.

Protect against a wide range of threats

Vulnerability tools that are only capable of scanning for a small range of threats could leave financial services institutions open to serious risk.

Ideally you want a solution that can assess your exposure to tens of thousands of vulnerabilities, and is constantly being updated to factor in the latest attack methodologies.

With vulnerabilities and exposures rising at a rate of 37% each year, you need total assurance that your vulnerability tool is managing the risk for you. For example, our vulnerability management as a service – which is managed in the cloud and powered by Tenable.io technology – is able to scan for over 60,000 vulnerabilities.

Critical reporting for fast decision making

When you’re dealing with threats to your operating environment, speed makes all the difference.

Some of the more advanced vulnerability tools are capable of categorising risks and presenting data at a high level with the ability to drill down. This supports rapid decision making which is crucial when you’re busy but need to take the right action fast.

Managed remediation through to completion

While vulnerability management is an integral part of boosting your security posture and ensuring compliance, Vulnerability Management as a Service (VMaaS) takes basic vulnerability tools to a whole new level.

VMaaS goes well beyond simply listing your vulnerabilities, and instead details what actions are required, by who, while managing the entire process through to remediation.

This is particularly important for compliance with information security standards, including:

  • ISO 27001
  • PCI – DSS
  • APRA CPS 234

For example, PCI DSS compliance requires that a third-party vendor performs external scans which can complement your own internal scanning efforts.

Supported by security specialists, VMaaS empowers you with full control over your IT environment while enabling you to prove to C-Suite executives and board members that you are on top of security and compliance.

It’s important to select the right VMaaS provider who can offer the highest level of assurance. At Harbour IT, our VMaaS solution is managed by highly skilled engineers who spend their days keeping up to date with the latest cyber threats and regulatory changes.

We provide:

  • regular reporting
  • detailed remediation recommendations
  • end to end remediation management
  • support to create effective vulnerability management policies

This provides total assurance that your environment is protected, while giving you confidence that your business is also compliant.

Most importantly, by handing over the stress of vulnerability management to us, you will have more time to focus on your digital transformation strategy and driving a better customer experience[RZ1]  to stay competitive.

To learn more about Harbour IT’s VMaaS solution, and how we can help boost security and ensure compliance in your business, please contact us.


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Information Technology (IT), Cloud Computing, Managed IT Services, IT Infrastructure Solutions, Disaster Recovery, Professional IT Services, IT Security, Cloud Computing Security, IT Help Desk, IT Service Support Desk, Communications, Procurement, Systems Integration, Managed Print Services