Maintaining effective cybersecurity is a continuous responsibility and process. Cybercriminals are always looking for new ways to exploit vulnerabilities—especially at financial firms that regularly manage sensitive data that is lucrative to those attackers.
One of the most important ways to maintain an edge against cybercriminals is by updating your cybersecurity software regularly. However, many financial firms struggle with this process due to complexity, misunderstandings, and lack of awareness.
Working with a managed cybersecurity provider can help companies remain on track in terms of software updates and keep up with leading-edge cybersecurity capabilities, no matter the size of their firms. These companies automate cybersecurity software updates, where “automated patches and updated management security solutions help IT teams easily enforce various security compliance policies,” as Forbes describes.
In this article, we discuss why updating software is essential to finance cybersecurity and share best practices for keeping cybersecurity software up to date. We also demonstrate how working with a managed services provider can help streamline the process.
What is Finance Cybersecurity?
In the financial services industry, cybersecurity involves all measures taken to protect industry-related electronic information from unauthorized access or theft. Financial firms manage large amounts of sensitive data, including customer financial records and transaction histories. This data is attractive to cybercriminals because it can be used to commit fraud, steal identities, or abuse in other ways for financial gain.
Cybersecurity threats to financial firms have been on the rise in recent years, and continue to grow in frequency. “Today, cybersecurity is an emerging risk with which public issuers increasingly must contend,” according to U.S. Security and Exchanges Commission (SEC) Chair Gary Gensler. “Cyber threats to the financial system are growing, and the global community must cooperate to protect it,” according to the International Monetary Fund. In time, these threats will only become more sophisticated and difficult to defend against.
Why is cybersecurity important for individual financial services firms?
When financial firms suffer a successful cyberattack, the resulting data exposure can have major consequences. For example, in 2014, JPMorgan Chase & Co. was hacked, exposing the personal information of 76 million households and roughly 7 million small businesses.
But while enterprise financial firms have been the most visible targets of cybercrime, small and medium-sized financial firms are also at risk. In fact, 43% of cyberattacks target small businesses, Security Magazine reports, where “47% of businesses with fewer than 50 employees do not have a dedicated cybersecurity budget.”
What are the weak points of finance cybersecurity?
Finance cybersecurity has several weak points, which can be exploited by cybercriminals. One vulnerability is the industry’s reliance on legacy systems. Older systems were not designed with security in mind and are more difficult to defend.
Another weak point is the human factor—employees who are not properly trained in cybersecurity best practices can unwittingly provide attackers with a way into their firm’s network. For example, phishing attacks—which involve hackers sending emails that appear to be from a trusted source to trick employees into clicking on a malicious link—are becoming increasingly common. These attacks are successful because they exploit human curiosity and gullibility.
In other cases, financial firms have invested in cybersecurity measures but have not maintained their software, preparedness training, or resources in the form of cybersecurity skills and expertise. These firms may have either in-house or managed cybersecurity capabilities that nonetheless feature outdated software, thereby making those firms, their data, and their digital assets vulnerable.
Updating software is critical to maintaining effective cybersecurity, no matter the circumstances. Failing to update cybersecurity software can render your investment in cybersecurity obsolete. Again, this is especially important in the finance industry, where firms regularly manage highly sensitive information that is lucrative for cybercriminals.
How Cybersecurity Updates Work
If your company uses cybersecurity software in any capacity, it’s the responsibility of your own cybersecurity leaders and teams to keep that software updated. However, it is the developers of the software you use who typically produce the updates or “patches” to their existing security measures. Device manufacturers from whom you buy or lease your company’s and employees’ devices may develop security updates for their firmware as well.
There are two types of software updates:
•Major updates: These include new features or changes to existing features. They usually require
downloading and installing new software, which can take some time and may even include some
•Minor updates: These are typically security “patches” that address specific vulnerabilities. They can
be downloaded and installed more quickly than major updates. But patches can be more frequent
than major updates; they are more often delayed, and easily can be overlooked as well.
Ideally, financial firms should update their cybersecurity software as soon as possible after a new update is released by the vendor. However, this is not always practical, as updating software can take time and may require downtime for systems while they are being updated. Firms who lack the in-house expertise to implement these updates successfully may encounter delays or errors as well.
Partnering with a cybersecurity managed services provider can help financial firms make updating software easy, and keep ahead of the latest threats in their industry. Leading partners not only provide software but monitor intrusion attempts among their clients and within the broader industry. These providers can then “record the methods attackers are using to gain file, system, or server access and update their defenses accordingly,” as McKinsey describes.
Does cybersecurity use coding when updating software?
Cybersecurity providers responsible for updating their clients’ software must have a strong understanding of how coding works to effectively update and troubleshoot software updates. It helps if your own cybersecurity team has a basic understanding of how coding works can be helpful when troubleshooting errors or updating software. But in many cases, you can rely on your managed services provider’s team of experts to take care of updating software for you.
5 Tips for Updating Software with Your Cybersecurity Provider
Even with the support of a security operations center as a service (SOCaaS) provider, your firm’s internal cybersecurity team should familiarize themselves with the pace, requirements, and processes associated with cybersecurity software updates. It falls to your internal teams to keep employees up-to-speed and prepared as new updates roll out as well. Here are five tips to streamline these processes without putting your firm at risk or disrupting your business functions.
1. Partner with a Leading Cybersecurity Provider
Choose a partner who is at the forefront of their industry, preferably with some experience serving financial firms. These providers will have teams of experts who are familiar with the latest updates and can help you install them quickly and easily. In addition, they’ll likely offer support in the form of training or resources so your team can stay up-to-date on the latest cybersecurity threats.
2. Create a Culture of Cybersecurity Proactivity
It’s easy for internal teams to settle on existing cybersecurity measures or even overlook them in the interest of expediency. That’s why creating and maintaining a proactive culture around cybersecurity updates is critical to keeping your firm safe. Your internal team should be on the lookout for new update notifications from vendors or announcements from internal teams and your partners, then act quickly to download updates or otherwise act accordingly.
While it’s critical your teams are aware of the need and frequency of updates, you should also simplify their experiences. This reduces friction in workflows, as well as the number of technical support calls you or your partner will receive. More importantly, it ensures employees will be more welcoming and accommodating to updates in the long term.
3. Prioritize Both Automation and Awareness When Updating Software
It’s important to both automate updates when possible and keep your team apprised of new updates as they come in. Automating updates can help ensure that critical security patches are installed quickly, while awareness among internal teams can help reduce the chances that an update is misunderstood or even denied. Work with your provider on both measures to ensure the least possible risk of failure or negligence.
4. Optimize Updates for Remote Work Environments
No matter the scale of your remote workforce, it’s critical you optimize updating processes for these employees. In many cases, this means providing them with direct access to updates or ensuring that their devices are updated automatically. Work with your provider on the best way to streamline these processes for your firm. You should anticipate more remote activity among employees as this model becomes more popular and accepted in the future.
5. Choose One Person as Your Cybersecurity Update Liaison
Although cybersecurity is everyone’s responsibility, there are strategic advantages in assigning update awareness and efficiency to a single person. When working with a leading provider, this person needn’t have advanced cybersecurity expertise; they need only be active in their communications with both providers and their internal teams. This way, you can be confident that updates will be properly communicated and installed when the necessity arises.
Proactive Cybersecurity Begins at the Top
Managed cybersecurity providers make it easy for financial firms of all sizes to stay on top of the latest software and updates. However, it still falls to your organization’s leaders to reduce friction and maintain a healthy cybersecurity culture throughout the lifetime of your technologies and partnership.
In time, you’ll find that updating cybersecurity software becomes second nature to your teams. And with the right provider, you can be confident that your firm’s data and systems are always up-to-date and secure.
Uvation Makes Updating Software in Finance Cybersecurity Easy and Successful
Uvation’s team of cybersecurity experts works with global financial firms, ensuring their software is always up-to-date no matter the complexity of their IT environments. Contact us today to discuss cybersecurity opportunities and technologies for your financial firm.