Think of the average number of internet-connected mobile devices that you actively use throughout the day. Now, let's consider some devices that you probably overlooked: refrigerators, microwaves, lights, televisions, medical devices, and even components of your car. The Internet of Things (IoT) is expanding at an astronomical rate, and now that you have a picture of the sheer quantity of connected items that you use as one single person, imagine the potential number of devices in an office building.
Staying on the cutting edge of technology has long been a way to try and outshine your competitors. Financial services organizations are no different, and while large traditional institutions are typically slower to adopt new technologies, the push for digital transformation for community banks has gained traction as they seek ways to set themselves apart from the crowd. With that shift comes a whole new set of cyber security concerns.
What Is an Endpoint?
Before we get into the weeds of endpoint security solutions, it's helpful to address the concept of what exactly an endpoint is. All of the devices we mentioned above would qualify as types of endpoints. Any single device that connects to a network is an endpoint; for our purposes, we're most concerned with those that will be connected to your corporate network. That may include a host of IoT devices in your corporate offices, bank branches, and any devices that your remote employees will connect to your network. It also includes ATMs and other distributed devices.
This can complicate matters when it comes to remote employees or other staff who may work from home or travel occasionally. The increase in popularity of bring your own device policies means that your cyber security staff may not have complete control over all endpoint devices connecting to your corporate network as they may not all be organizationally owned. Endpoint security in financial services is essential, and failing to account for that can prove disastrous.
Endpoint Security Threats
It's no surprise that criminal enterprises love to target financial services organizations. They're in possession of two of the things that cyber criminals love most: money and sensitive data. When we're speaking of an industry like finance where regulatory compliance is the name of the game, security tools and security measures are substantial.
With secure perimeters set on corporate networks, the best way for a bad actor to gain access is to compromise one of the innumerable endpoint devices. That preys on the weakest link, the human element, in the most effective way possible by focusing on the least secured access points to your systems. You can't afford to overlook endpoint security in any financial services enterprise.
Securing Your Endpoints
There are almost as many endpoint security solutions as there are types of endpoints, but that doesn't mean that they are all good solutions especially not in a regulatory compliance-heavy industry like finance. They can run the gamut from commercially available individual antivirus programs to top-tier endpoint protection platforms (EPP). With a distributed network of endpoints, remotely managed security measures are going to be the most effective.
Endpoint Protection Platforms
The increase in remote work and hybrid work schedules means that there could be a high number of endpoint devices that are not under your physical control and may never even enter the building. While we are not here to recommend specific endpoint protection platforms in this article, we can help you narrow down the features that you should be looking for. This will help you make the best investment possible for your organization.
Deploying an endpoint protection platform that allows visibility into the number of devices connecting to your corporate network is of prime importance. With financial services organizations being targeted for cyber attacks at a rate 300 times the next closest industry and 70% of those attacks coming through compromised endpoint devices, failing to see what is connected to your network is the equivalent of leaving the front door unlocked. Some enterprises can be faced with managing upwards of half a million devices, and seeing these connections and their behavior in real time is the key to our next recommendation.
The principles of endpoint detection and response (EDR) are focused on allowing your endpoint protection platform to monitor the behavior of endpoint devices and identify suspicious behavior. This managed security solution harnesses machine learning and AI to determine when devices are not acting within behavior norms and takes appropriate action. This markedly decreases response time, and by focusing on behavior instead of file systems, it has the added benefit of being able to detect file-less attacks which are typically missed by traditional antivirus or anti-malware programs.
Security tools that feature robust endpoint detection and response are the most effective in thwarting or limiting the dwell time of cyber attackers. The more capabilities that your platform has to isolate or take other action against potentially compromised endpoints the better. Notifying security staff for review is good, but having the ability to take action immediately is critical.
With the variety of threats and tasks to be managed by your chosen platform, one that is lightweight is essential to avoid slowing down mobile devices to the point of uselessness. This is why cloud-based endpoint security in financial services is gaining so much traction. While regulatory compliance may require some types of on-premises security technologies, the lighter touch of a cloud-based platform should bear the brunt of your security measures for endpoint devices. Harnessing the cloud also allows remote management of your endpoint devices as well as the ability to manage security measures for your corporate network remotely.
Another feature that you should be looking for in your endpoint security solution is encryption. Endpoint device, disk, and even email encryption are available on some EPPs, and this is another layer of cyber security to hamper attempts at data exfiltration. Cyber attacks against financial services organizations come in all shapes and sizes, and data is at the heart of most of them. Keeping your sensitive information encrypted at rest and in transit helps to ensure that even if data is exfiltrated it remains useless to the attackers provided they are not able to obtain the encryption key.
Financial institutions already spend billions of dollars on cyber security annually. Even with that investment, they remain the single most targeted industry for cyber attacks. As it seems that this trend is not likely to reverse course, your focus should be on making your sensitive information as secure as possible. The importance of endpoint security solutions must be highlighted in order to get the most value from your enterprise's investment.
At Venture Lynk Risk Management, high-risk industries are our specialty. We staff teams of experts in the areas of vendor risk management, operational risk management, intellectual property risk management, and information security. Whether your concerns are the cyber security of your own endpoints or the procedures and security measures that your third-party vendors have in place, we can help you assess your current levels of risk, establish policies and procedures to better secure your organization, and even conduct ongoing monitoring. You can schedule a consultation with our team to address how we can best assist you in managing your unique risk today.