In a highly regulated industry such as finance, business owners cannot be too careful when it comes to investing in cloud services. Consumers have not forgotten the massive Equifax security breach that impacted over 140 million people in the United States, and the pressure is on to make sure that the balance between security and access is preserved.
Many financial services companies are turning to cloud services to provide the digital infrastructure they need to thrive in the modern business landscape. The system they choose must not only provide the security needed for the customers’ peace of mind but be compliant with the numerous regulations that apply to the industry. There are certain key features that should be a part of any cloud services package that is under consideration: security, audit tracking, disaster recovery, scalability, and centralization.
One of the primary concerns for any company that deals with financial records is security, and multi-factor authentication is an excellent starting point. Unlike traditional (and vulnerable) static user passwords and logins, multi-factor authentication requires that the user provide something they know (e.g., user name and password) along with something they should have (such as a passcode delivered directly to their device). This makes it much more challenging for hackers to access a system even if they manage to determine the username and password, and no modern cloud services system is complete without at least two-factor authentication.
There are so many different types of endpoint devices that can be used to access financial system information, including laptops, smart phones, and desktop computers as well as specialized equipment. This adds some serious complexity to keeping a system secure, especially if the devices used to access it are not secure. Many breaches into otherwise secure systems have been made possible by a single compromised device.
In order for a cloud services security system to be robust enough for use in the financial industry, it needs to include endpoint device validation. One of the key components of endpoint device validation is making sure that the device that wants to access the system meets security policy before access is granted. Security requirements could include the operating system, installation of antivirus software, or remote wipe capabilities in case the device should ever be compromised. Endpoint validation enforces these security policies and either prohibits or severely limits access to the system by an insecure device.
Another key feature in a cloud services package is audit tracking, which is especially vital in the financial services industry. It is important to know who is accessing what data, and what they are doing with it. This information is not just important for internal security, however; it is equally vital when it comes time for regulatory compliance audits. Because the level of tracking varies not just from industry to industry but from company to company, it’s important that any audit tracking system is both granular and flexible. However, having audit tracking data is not enough. Also key is the ability to produce informative, actionable reports from this data.
A financial services organization cannot afford to lose the data they own, nor can they afford to lose access to it for any length of time. It is necessary that cloud services include several encrypted backups that are stored at multiple physical, secured locations. These backups should include a practically instantaneous copy of the data, as well as copies of the operating system, network, applications, and anything else that is key to continued system functionality.
Such a robust set of system backups supports a hot disaster recovery option, which should also be expected. A hot disaster recovery system means that the system will be running and accessible with the latest data as soon as possible with minimal loss of time and practically no loss of data. When it comes to financial records and transactions, nothing less is acceptable.
One last feature that should be expected when it comes to disaster recovery and backups may not seem as impressive but is just as vital: seven-year file retention. The importance of file retention cannot be overstated when it comes to compliance and regulations in the financial services industry.
It’s not just the large companies that are being targeted by hackers and cyberterrorists – more than 50% of small businesses have been the victim of a cyberattack, and of those 55% ceased operations within six months. Both small and large companies need access to a robust cloud services system that can scale to whatever size they may be today, as well as a year from now. No financial services company should settle for a system that cannot seamlessly grow with them.
A modern approach to cloud services involves providing a secure digital hub to facilitate all the computerized operations that a financial services company needs for its daily operations. Included in this hub would be the IT system, applications, data, and documents. It should support integration of whatever applications and licenses the company needs. In addition, such a hub would be accessible from any company-approved mobile device. This centralized approach solves many of the issues involving compliance, compatibility, audit tracking, security, and compliance. It also supports accessibility by employees, who can be assured that their devices are compatible with the system (Android, MAC, PC) and that they can access anything they need – apps, documents, data, email – remotely.
Contact IT Services Group
At IT Services Group, we understand that the financial services industry is highly regulated and deals with very sensitive data that hackers would love to access. That’s why we offer packages that effectively meet your needs – security, audit tracking, disaster recovery, scalability, and centralization. There’s no need to shop around for multiple pieces to put together in hopes of maintaining security, meeting regulatory requirements, and still being functional. If you are in the financial industry, contact us today to see how we can provide the rigorous, secure, compliant solutions that meet your needs and protect the data of the customers who depend on you.