Throughout the pandemic financial crime, fraud, ransomware and phishing have all been on the rise. Employees working from home and users accessing their data remotely have meant user credentials have been regularly stolen or compromised.
Cyber criminals have regularly played on fears and uncertainties around the pandemic as part of their social engineering strategies, taking advantage of new ways of working and unfamiliar applications. The barebones security of most home networks and poor cyber hygiene amongst employees - such as sharing devices with family members - compounds these issues.
Every organisation is at risk from cyber threats and the financial sector especially must provide secure, dependable services. Identity & Access Management (IAM), systems providing user identity management, facilitates secure remote access.
Computing's recent report into the subject, which surveys 150 IT leaders from medium-sized enterprises, explores challenges in the current security landscape and how IAM can have an impact.
The research shows the current global security context is of concern to financial services. The rapid rise of remote and homeworking demanding round the clock access, combined with the exponential growth of cybercrime, necessitates a security strategy with identity at the forefront. IAM is a critical factor for comprehensive secure digital platforms capable of supporting collaborative working, remote access, low-friction services, and sector innovation.
Cyberthreats: a symptom of the pandemic
81 per cent of respondents have experienced cyber-attacks since the pandemic began, with 13 per cent reporting a daily occurrence, and 25 per cent facing weekly incidents.
The pandemic demanded transformative changes in the ways financial services organisations interacted with both their customers and employees, simultaneously introducing new vulnerabilities. Accessing sensitive data remotely requires user authentication and definitive access controls to ensure users - customers, employees, or third parties - are who they say they are and are only able to access permitted data and applications.
75 per cent of respondents agree, either ‘strongly' (35 per cent) or ‘somewhat' (40 per cent), that the pandemic increased the need for capable IAM solutions at their organisation. Notably, 85 per cent of respondents agreed that increasing security threat frequency and sophistication mean IAM is ever more important for their company.
IAM solutions improve secure access to privileged, private data in a time of insidious cybersecurity threats. Users must continuously validate their identity under hybrid working conditions to prevent sophisticated unauthorised access to both customer and employee accounts.
Of course, the financial services sector also has to comply with stringent regulations. A security failure or slip-up could have large-scale devastating consequences. In an industry where trust is paramount, the reputational damage often cuts deeper than the immediate interruption to productivity and regulatory fines.
Internal identity and access management are deemed ‘extremely important' by 44 per cent of financial sector respondents, highlighting its critical importance to IT leaders. Authenticating partners and customer IAM are also viewed as ‘extremely important' by around 15 per cent of all respondents.
However, despite the recognised need for businesses to strengthen cybersecurity, and the awareness that IAM can support this, adoption is not yet widespread in the financial sector. Less than 30 per cent of respondents had fully implemented an advanced IAM platform, with less than 28 per cent in the process of rolling one out. Despite this, the sector looks set to mature rapidly over the next couple of years, with near universal interest in such technology.
Innovative impact of IAM
Identity and authentication are vital for sustaining integrity and trust within financial organisations. Enterprises that have already adopted IAM systems reported high confidence in its security, with most responses being spread between ‘quite confident' and ‘very confident'.
Today, with the increasing emphasis on rigorous industry rules, partially fuelled by the recently developed Strong Customer Authentication regulations, IAM is an opportunity for innovation in professional markets. IAM is a proven approach to improving trust, reducing risk, and enhancing customer experience.
To find out more about how IAM is driving innovation in the financial services sector, read the full report
This article is sponsored by Okta