Cloud Security measures for Financial Services, and how AWS goes beyond

Cloud Security measures for Financial Services, and how AWS goes beyond

Banking, Financial Services and Insurance (BFSI) businesses present an attractive target for hackers, given the high impact that attacks on such companies can have, and the large monetary gains they stand to make through a successful attack. According to the Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report 2022, over 2500 incidents were reported from the financial services industry, with almost 700 confirmed breaches.

That’s why security has always been a top priority for financial services firms – even when they ran their applications on-premise. And now that most BFSI businesses have embraced the cloud, the focus on security remains, but its contours have moved to address the realities of this new paradigm.

How does this work? Let’s take a look at some of the key cloud security measures adopted in financial services.

1. Risk Assessment

Performing regular and thorough Vulnerability Assessment and Penetration Testing (VA/PT) on applications on the cloud is a vital first step to identifying and plugging cybersecurity gaps on the cloud.

VA/PT is important for 3 reasons:

  • To secure the highly sensitive data that financial services companies deal with
  • To protect the huge number of third-party businesses – retailers, F&B and hospitality businesses, e-commerce businesses and so on – who depend on banks and financial services companies for their business operations
  • To comply with increasingly stringent data protection regulations around the world including Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), America’s Gramm-Leach-Bliley (GLB) Act, the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), and more

2. Bot Mitigation

A significant percentage of traffic to banking and other financial applications comes from bots either as spam or other forms of malicious traffic. By blocking this traffic even before it reaches your infrastructure, you can not only reduce instances of attacks on your assets, but also reduce unproductive load on your cloud servers, resulting in improved performance and lower infra costs.

Advanced AI/ML tools exist today to intelligently and automatically segregate bot traffic from genuine human traffic, and provide protection to your environment far beyond what traditional IP-blocking can achieve.

3. Identity & Access Management

According to the 2021 Data Risk Report – Financial Services from Varonis, on average, every employee in the industry has access to nearly 11 million files. The extent of access provided to users in a financial institution has a direct impact on the extent of risk.

It is critical that the principles of ‘least privilege’ and ‘zero trust’ be followed to eliminate unnecessary access to sensitive applications and data, and to establish clear accountability and access logging. 

To further bolster security, a multi-factor authentication (MFA) setup can protect against brute-force login attacks and breached passwords being used by malicious actors.

4. Early Detection & Response

According to Cybint, more than 77 percent of organizations do not have a cyber security incident response plan in place. This is worrying, given the volume and frequency of attacks in the financial sector. Not to mention that most regulations also compliance with defined time for response on reporting on detected breaches.

That’s why it is important for financial institutions to monitor their environment 24/7, and to document a well-defined plan of action if and when a breach is detected. Detecting a breach early can have a real impact on stopping the attack and limiting the damage, while an incident response plan can ensure that the necessary steps are taken without panic and with a clear sense of direction.

AWS and Cloud Security for Financial Services

While the 4 high-level security measures will take you a long way on the path to improved cloud security for your financial institution, here are some of the security solutions that AWS offers to financial services firms.

1. Compliance

At the infrastructure level, AWS complies with the most important statutory regulations that impact the financial services industry, including PCI-DSS, SEC Rule 17-a-4(f), Reg SCI, EU Data Protection Directive, FedRAMP, GDPR, FIPS 140-2, and NIST 800-171. Additionally, the AWS Compliance Center provides up to date compliance information for 50+ countries.

2. Architecture

The Financial Services Industry Lens of the AWS Well-Architected Framework can help you build secure and high-performance infra for your applications, with best practices for security, data privacy and resilience tailored to the financial services industry.

3. Access Control

The AWS IAM Access Analyzer helps you implement your least privilege access management strategy through granular permission and policy definitions, monitoring and alerts on resource permissions, and information to find opportunities to tighten access control.

4. Security Checks & Alerts

AWS Security Hub helps to automate the process of security checks and brings control of all security related alerts to one central location. Apart from Cloud Security Posture Management, Security Hub also enables you to automate the process of remediation when best practices are not followed.

5. Audit Logging

AWS CloudTrail monitors and logs activity across your AWS environment, acting as a source of truth to demonstrate compliance with regulations, and to identify the point of occurrence of attacks or breaches.

At Noventiq, we specialize in cloud security on AWS – from assessment to remediation, automation and optimization to continuous management. With experience working with major players in the financial services industry, we’re the right partner to help you build security into the foundations of your journey on the cloud.