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4 Things Financial Service Organizations Need to Know About Protecting Their Data

October 26, 2022
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Cyber threats are becoming increasingly complex – and significantly more costly – for financial service organizations. According to a 2021 report, in just the first six months of 2021, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network identified $590 million in ransomware-related suspicious activity reports. This marked a 42% increase compared to 2020 and exceeded totals from any previous reporting period since 2011.

The potential impact of customer data being stolen or breached is far-reaching. Not only does this typically include fines associated with not remaining in compliance with government regulations and the costs of restoring the data but the potential impacts to customer trust and public perception are also substantial.

As financial services and insurance (FSI) organizations face growing pressure to do more with customer data – from delivering individualized product recommendations to creating personalized customer experiences – they must also balance this pressure with an increasing need to maintain stringent standards around the security and privacy of customer data to protect against evolving cyber threats.

Here are three things that FSI organizations need to know about protecting the data that drives their business.  

1. Cyberattacks Are Increasing at an Alarming Rate

Did you know that between February and April 2020, cyberattacks against financial organizations spiked by 238%? Banks and other financial service organizations are often prime targets for cyberattacks, including ransomware, since they hold large volumes of personally identifiable information (PII), payment card industry (PCI) data as well as other sensitive (and valuable) customer information.

Maintaining backup data, patching network systems, and adopting cyberthreat detection tools are all helpful but can only do so much. All the aforementioned methods can be beneficial, to varying degrees, at deterring and minimizing the likelihood of a successful cyber threat. While these methods can minimize the likelihood of a cyberattack, these methods do not directly protect the integrity of the data itself if that data were to be breached. Nowadays, many organizations operate with the mentality that they need to prepare for when a cyberthreat happens, not necessarily if. Even with good data security posture, companies would do well to operate under the assumption that their data systems might likely get breached at some point – and take steps to ensure the integrity of their data when it gets breached.

When a cyberattack does happen, the potential impact of sensitive customer information being accessed or compromised in any manner can be significant. However, that’s only if such data is readable or usable to criminals once it’s accessed.

2. You Can Make Your Data Useless to Criminals

One of the most effective approaches to protect your data against ransomware or other cyberthreats is to make your data effectively useless if anyone were to steal it. With cutting-edge advancements in data protection capabilities, this is possible.

There’s a method of data protection called tokenization that essentially makes data worthless to criminals. Tokenization is a form of cryptography that substitutes a real value within the protected data for a token that obfuscates that value. This form of data protection enables enterprises to securely store sensitive and other confidential data, such as social security numbers or addresses, with a token.  

Because tokenization uses randomization to generate tokens that are able to act as a substitute for real values in the data being protected, it delivers powerful business value. Randomization helps alleviate concerns about quantum computing’s ability to break key-based encryption algorithms. Moreover, the manner in which tokenization replaces real values with a token enables it to be maintained consistently across the enterprise. What this means is that data can then be joined in a protected state to be leveraged for artificial intelligence and machine learning initiatives, data analytics programs, or any other use case that requires sensitive data to be protected before it is utilized.

Data protected by tokenization is consistently protected across the enterprise even upon exfiltration by a cybercriminal or other malicious actor. In the event tokenized data is breached, the protected data is concealed, and all the hacker would have access to is the tokenized ciphertext data, which would appear as unusable, random characters.  

What this means is that, if an unauthorized person were to steal or access said data, it would be unreadable and therefore of little use or leverage to a cybercriminal. That data wouldn’t be able to be reversed with a key in the way that encrypted data can be. This, in effect, makes the data of no value to criminals. They subsequently wouldn’t be able to leverage this data. They wouldn’t be able to expose it. They wouldn’t be able to sell it. Tokenized data becomes essentially useless to criminals.      

3. Moving to the Cloud Is More Secure Than You Might Think

Too often, the risk of cyberattacks or data breaches hinders financial service organizations from doing more with their data. This includes moving data to the cloud. It’s not uncommon for FSI organizations to have reservations about moving sensitive data to the public cloud due to concerns about being able to adhere to stringent government regulations, data privacy mandates, or corporate compliance regulations. This has compelled some financial service organizations to keep their most sensitive customer data and intellectual property in data centers. But did you know that it's possible to maintain the same level of data security and privacy on the cloud as in an on-premises environment?    

With Protegrity, financial services organizations have access to advanced data protection capabilities that enable companies to do more with their data. Organizations are equipped with a suite of data protection capabilities including tokenization, encryption, granular access controls, dynamic data masking, and anonymization that enable data to be leveraged for a range of use cases that some FSI organizations might find risky without supplementary data protection capabilities. Some of these uses include AI initiatives, fraud prevention, customer relationship programs, advanced data analytics, customer personalization, data monetization, and sharing data with third-party vendors.

Protegrity provides capabilities to protect data before it even migrates to the cloud. In addition, once on the public cloud, enterprise data remains protected so it can be fully and freely leveraged across a diverse range of cloud initiatives. These advanced data protection capabilities enable sensitive, mission-critical data to be protected while it’s in-transit, at rest, and in use. With this advanced level of security, data can be utilized across a number of cloud services with the added assurance that even the most confidential and sensitive data can retain the highest levels of privacy, security, and integrity while on the public cloud.  

With Protegrity, organizations can securely leverage data to tap into the many benefits of the cloud, including artificial intelligence, data analytics, advanced compute capabilities, storage offerings, cloud-native services, and more. Amazon Web Services (AWS), the world’s most comprehensive and broadly adopted public cloud platform, offers more than 200 fully featured products and cloud services that empower organizations to build, innovate and better serve their customers.  

With Protegrity and AWS, organizations can tap into the benefits the cloud has to offer while also maintaining peace of mind that their confidential and sensitive data is always protected. To learn more about how Protegrity works with and supports AWS cloud services, check out our resource on unlocking the potential of secure cloud data.

4. Adhering to Cross-Border Data Sovereignty Requirements Is Becoming More Complex (And More Important)

It’s imperative that financial service organizations – especially those that operate on a global scale – properly adhere to data residency and sovereignty requirements in each of the countries, regions, and legal jurisdictions in which they operate. Understanding and knowing how to navigate the nuances of cross-border data residency requirements is vital, especially as government regulations around data privacy continue to expand and evolve. Its important enterprises leverage a data protection solution that not only remains one step ahead of these evolving requirements but that also is robust and comprehensive enough to provide the level of data protection required to consistently meet complex cross-border regulatory requirements in every single jurisdiction in which an organization does business.  

With Protegrity, organizations have complete control over the protection of their data. When protected data is shared with third-party vendors or migrated across borders, an outside entity is required to come back to the original point of protection to ask permission before that data is able to be reidentified. Third-party vendors aren't able to view the clear text version of the data that is shared with them unless they are given explicit permission to do so. Likewise, protected data that is migrated across borders cannot be reidentified without direct approval being granted from the point of protection.

This level of protection from Protegrity helps solve crucial data residency and sovereignty concerns for global financial service organizations. Protegrity can help de-risk the movement of data and enable organizations to maintain compliance with data privacy and residency requirements around the world.

Protect the Data That Propels Your Business Forward With Protegrity and AWS

Regardless of where your data resides and how it’s utilized – whether it's on the cloud, on-premises, across multiple clouds, or in a hybrid environment – ensuring the security and protection for your data is imperative. Protegrity can help safeguard your sensitive and mission-critical enterprise data while at the same time freeing that data to be used for a wider array of use cases, ones that directly drive real business value. To schedule a demo or learn more about how Protegrity can empower your organization to safely and securely do more with your data, we invite you to contact us today!

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