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The State of Financial Services Cybersecurity

Finance and cybersecurity go hand-in-hand. Hand holding up an iPad with a bar chart on it.

From Robin Hood to Bonnie and Clyde to Equifax, banks and the finance industry have been in jeopardy since the beginning of recorded history. For one, banks and financial services are enticing targets. The promise of a big payout, whether by breaching the vault or ransoming sensitive personal data, is what keeps would-be bank robbers and cyber-criminals trying new tactics year after year.

The data backs it up: among all industries, finance is the most impacted by cyber threats.

A Rising Tide Raises All Ships: 2020 & Cyber Threats

In their annual X-Force Threat Intelligence Index, IBM Security reported that the financial services and insurance industry topped the list for most-targeted industry globally. The report also found that the number of compromised records – across all industries – grew by 200 percent year over year from 2018 to 2019. Threats to financial services did not escape this growth and IBM found that banking Trojans are growing in popularity to stage ransomware attacks.

However, financial services have one major advantage over other industries: better cybersecurity. IBM notes that, while finance is the most-targeted industry, it discloses fewer data breaches. Financial organizations take cybersecurity seriously and tend to have more effective tools in their arsenals, test their cybersecurity plans, and prepare for the inevitable attack. These strategies may mean that, despite more attackers, financial services are less likely to suffer a data breach.

Related Reading: The Best Cybersecurity Strategies for Banks and Financial Organizations

The COVID Factor: New Opportunities for Attack

COVID-19 has impacted nearly every aspect of everyday life across the globe. It also poses new problems and aggravates existing ones for businesses, forcing security professionals to accelerate changes or adjust their tactics to mitigate cyber risks. Cyber threats were going to continue their upward trajectory going into the 2020s, but COVID-19 offered novel opportunities for data breach.

One surprising security flaw that COVID-19 has uncovered, according to 250 CISOs and CIOs surveyed by data loss prevention leader Clearswift, is manual processes. Aside from automating workflows to reduce human error, the cybersecurity leaders indicated that manual processes keep their IT teams from working on more business-critical tasks.

COVID-19 also opened new routes into organizations. Remote workforces drastically increase your available attack surface, with numerous networks, employee’s personal devices, and fewer built-in security controls that offices have in place. It’s more important than ever to understand your organization’s data flows, including with network monitoring, systems for secure file transfer, and ways to avoid losing sensitive data.

Related Reading: 5 Ways to Strengthen Cybersecurity Working from Home

An Unexpected Threat: Security Weaknesses in Information Exchange

In the big heist films, misdirection is the order of the day. Like in the movies, cyber criminals have found their own way to take an unexpected twist en route to the treasure trove: third parties. While small organizations may not be as attractive as huge enterprises, they offer access to those more lucrative targets. Plus, smaller organizations are less likely to have strong security measures in place, essentially propping open a back entrance that hackers can slip through.

Supply chains are among the most common avenues for attack, and hackers continue to exploit them. Hackers can infiltrate via trading partners, clients, or even providers linked to a small enterprise. In fact, nearly 50 percent of financial services CISOs are concerned with security weaknesses in their supply chain – meaning they fear that their vendors, partners, and other third parties are going to be the weak link when it comes to getting breached.

One way to mitigate this risk is to ensure that, first, any connection between your organization and any third parties is secure and, second, ensure that the data you’re sending or receiving is secure as well. File and data transfer can be fraught with risk. Data that isn’t properly encrypted, both in transit and at rest, is at risk of compromise.

Keeping your data secure during information exchanges – whether within your organization or to your trading partners, clients, and other third parties – is easier with one simple solution: managed file transfer.

Managed File Transfer: Solving Your File Transfer Security

Clearswift found that financial sector CISOs are focusing investment in several key areas in the next twelve months: protecting a remote workforce, data loss prevention, and secure file transfer.

Get the Report: Cybersecurity Challenges in Financial Services

Secure file transfer solutions, like managed file transfer, are built to help you move files from A to B securely, via automation and with a birds-eye view of file movements. Financial services use MFT to better control trading partner data exchanges.

Centralization & Visibility

First, MFT helps organizations reduce the number of channels that information flows through. MFT offers central control and brings credential management, user access privilege, and certificates into a centralized system. It is vital to financial firms that they understand the data they have, where it resides, and how it moves within and outside of the institution.

Along with a suite of data security products that help organizations get a handle on the types of data on hand and sensitive contents therewithin, HelpSystems’ MFT solution GoAnywhere Managed File Transfer offers unparalleled security controls, including audit trails, user access controls, and file transfer protections.

Compliance & Litigation

The financial, banking, and insurance industries all face strict regulation over every facet of their business. They’re among the most highly regulated industries in the economy, adhering to requirements including PCI DSS, GLBA, Basel III, SOX 404 and 409, Dodd-Frank Act, and Check 21 x 937. These organizations must have appropriate data management and security measures in place, both to protect against data breaches, and to avoid litigation.

Litigation following security breaches or audits is a growing risk. Fines for GDPR noncompliance are growing as Data Protection Authorities settle into their new role, and fines will likely continue to grow as time goes on.

Related Reading: The Cost of Not Being GDPR Compliant

GoAnywhere helps organizations meet data security compliance requirements with file encryption for files in motion and at rest, and provides data tracking, auditing, and reporting to stay ahead of audits. It’s easier for organizations to rise to the regulatory challenge with a better understanding of the data on hand, and how it is processes and transferred.


GoAnywhere also offers the critical integration needed between a wide range of financial institution systems, platforms, business associates and trading partners. As well as centralizing processes into one powerful tool, GoAnywhere is built to integrate with other tools to simplify data flow. This includes:

  • Agents – GoAnywhere Agents provide real-time remote file transfer capabilities. They work in various environments, including within internal networks, at each of your remote sites, with cloud environments, and more.
  • Outlook Secure Mail Option – Slot secure file transfers into your everyday communication methods. GoAnywhere MFT’s Secure Mail lets you and your employees send sensitive data with the convenience of email and the security of MFT.
  • Cloud Connectors – Also known as cloud integrations, Cloud Connectors are web and cloud applications integrations that plug into your GoAnywhere projects. Connect to AWS, Box, Dropbox, and nearly 40 other popular web apps.
  • Secure ICAP Gateway – Seamlessly integrate managed file transfer with advanced threat protection and adaptive data loss prevention solutions. Give your file transfers an unprecedented level of security and oversight from start to finish.

Through its integration capabilities, MFT addresses the challenges that financial institutions have in integrating isolated applications within the bank or with different banks or branches in the same group. By consolidating processes and simplifying integration, GoAnywhere makes it easier to manage data flow and frees up time for IT teams to manage their security environment.

Cybersecurity for Your Financial Organization

Solutions that prioritize data security and improve your processes go a long way towards your organization’s cybersecurity goals.

Discover how you can secure, streamline, and centralize your organization’s data movement with one easy to use tool: GoAnywhere. It’s a flexible, scalable solution that can meet you where you’re at now and grow with your business processes into the future, all while safeguarding your data from common cybersecurity risks.

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