In its industry transformation map, the Monetary Authority of Singapore has highlighted cybersecurity as essential for the financial sector, stressing cloud computing as a source of cyber dangers in the face of digitalizing financial infrastructure. The danger that faces these functions rises as more financial institutions use third-party services for crucial tasks.
Security and risk teams must go beyond compliance checkboxes and learn to analyze how they may leverage these network changes to their advantage as financial institutions continue to alter their digital environments. CIO World Asia Spoke with Chris Thomas, Senior Security Advisor, APJ, at ExtraHop about protection against cybercriminals for financial sectors.
The vulnerability of financial services to cybercriminals
Cybercriminals target financial services because they handle and manage high-value assets. However, because they are extensively regulated and have strict compliance and data protection rules, the financial services sector also tends to make things more difficult for hackers. For example, Singapore passed the Financial Services and Markets Act this year, increasing the maximum fine for violations in financial institutions to SGD1 million though, the fine could be much higher for failing to take reasonable precautions to prevent serious disruptions of essential financial services.
This is in conjunction with national initiatives to update the Financial Services Industry Transformation Map 2025 and strengthen the nation’s status as a financial hub. Several strategies to strengthen financial services are outlined in the updated framework, from increased digitalization to stronger sustainability commitments.
The industry’s digital deployments are expanding in variety and complexity as it works to provide seamless and effective customer experiences. The danger of compliance failure arises from these key vulnerabilities, which cannot be addressed without real-time visibility into everything that occurs on the network.
Contribution of digitalization on financial services increasing cyber threats
Ransomware has increased by 54 percent since 2021, according to the most recent statistics from Singapore’s Cyber Security Agency, with the use of the increasingly common Ransomware-as-a-Service (RaaS) model to attack unwary businesses. The same year saw a 17 percent increase in phishing, with financial services in Singapore coming in second after social networking companies in terms of industry spoofing.
These numbers demonstrate that there are hazards connected with digitalization that need to be anticipated, even while it is streamlining transactions and providing end consumers with more ease.
Ensuring safety beyond the compliance checkboxes
To go above and beyond cybersecurity compliance, best practices must be incorporated into every part of the organization as a whole rather than being reduced to a standalone checklist.
Since they are a crucial component of cyber resilience and the long-term viability of the organization, developing cybersecurity best practices that comply with the legislation has far-reaching effects. Together, management, leadership, and staff must work toward the same goals since it is how organizations may go above and beyond the bare minimum.
Basic cyber behaviors like comprehending online security protocols, making sure everyone on the network is aware of safe browsing practices, creating and storing passwords securely, and following established operating procedures to report and stop suspicious activity are the first steps in this process.
How to maintain hygiene and compliance, however, in a proactive and widespread manner, is the most important question. The efficacy of perimeter and endpoint monitoring is constrained. To monitor all the tools and systems operating throughout their digital architecture, financial institutions require total visibility, automated, real-time discovery, categorization, and mapping. This not only makes it possible to react to risks quickly and decisively, but it may also make compliance reporting simpler and quicker.
Actions financial institutions can do to beat ransomware in the midgame
The trick is to stop lateral movement. Attackers frequently start by breaking into the portion of the network where they won’t necessarily have access to valuable data. They travel laterally to do this, hopping from system to system until they reach their intended target.
What is concerning is that attackers are becoming more adept at using covert lateral movement to reach where they want to be. Today’s threats are more sophisticated and numerous, making it essential to monitor all network traffic, including that between a data center and the rest of the network as well as that between servers within a data center.
The organization can investigate and respond to an incident before it becomes worse by being able to analyze network data. Organizations can detect and identify indications of compromise (IOC) through multidimensional analysis, allowing them to determine if they may have previously been compromised.
How IT teams can leverage networks for protection
With network detection and response (NDR) supported by cloud-scale machine learning, IT staff may be empowered as the technological stack of the modern corporation grows dramatically. Additionally, NDR must be customized to meet the needs of businesses, whether they operate in on-premises, public cloud, or hybrid settings. Real-time visibility into every asset and communication throughout the whole network is made possible by this, assisting in thwarting threats and demonstrating compliance.
This further assures that performance of the program is unaffected by security. Fully SaaS-based network monitoring provides complete visibility at even faraway locations by providing much deeper insight and more accurate portrayal of network activities. Delivering a seamless and secure experience for consumers and partners depends on this level of understanding.
CIOs from IT teams can also work together with their CFO colleagues to ensure that employees in the company have basic cyber habits such as understanding online security protocols, ensuring everyone on the network knows how to browse safely, creating and storing passwords safely, as well as standard operating procedures to report and neutralize suspicious activity.