As a chain is only as strong as its weakest link, so is your bank only as secure as its weakest system. While financial institutions spend billions annually on physical security, there can be no question that having a proper IT asset management tool (IAM) in place is another key requirement towards an overall security regimen.
With the constant threat of unauthorized access to potentially vulnerable banking systems, banks are indeed starting to take notice. It has been reported that financial services companies are 300 times more likely to suffer cybersecurity incidents than other business fields.
And the budgets to combat these incidents are rising. Bank of America anticipated spending $400 million on cybersecurity in 2015 alone and conceded that the responsible department was completely freed of budgetary constraints in order to do so.
So how does this impact your financial services institution? From a technical infrastructure perspective, having proper IT asset management software systems in place is a vital step toward ensuring functional cybersecurity standards are met.
As we will see, your bank’s security doesn’t stop with physical security.
Vulnerability of IT Assets
Banks without an IT asset management tool in place face an untold number or risks, of which security is merely one facet. As Steve DuScheid of Novell Networks explains,
“Banks without an IT asset management program face risks that range from security breaches to noncompliance with regulations and license agreements.”
As most large institutions count vast amounts of physical hardware systems and software bundles among their infrastructure assets, it’s easy for some of these to become outdated and, subsequently, the weak link in the chain.
One key limitation is that IT managers don’t always have the tools needed to be proactive when it comes to managing hardware assets. When you consider how many multiple system types from a number of vendors the typical bank has in place, the potential for security lapses becomes clear.
By putting proper IAM processes in place, IT professionals will have an unparalleled ability to ensure that systems remain fully compliant with security protocols, that unauthorized software doesn’t gain a foothold, and that redundant or outdated components are properly secured.
IT Asset Management Software To Identify Vulnerable Systems
The first step toward implementing an IAM program is to deploy IT asset management software to help identify and isolate vulnerable systems within your bank.
Sadly, many financial institutions fail to take even this step, according to former Bank of America CISO Patrick Gorman.
“When I think about assets in the enterprise IT’s mobile devices, endpoints, servers, networks, where your data is located, it’s where your people are at, it’s understanding business processes — and I’ve yet to see any organization that has a good end-to-end view of this, so if something happens what business process is affected? Where’s the data?”
As part of that survey, IT managers using IAM protocols can not only identify which assets are vulnerable but deploy patches to fix holes in the system. This has the advantage of tremendously boosting the overall security level of your financial institution.
Having a complete assessment of vulnerable systems, therefore, provides necessary data to move forward with a truly secure hardware and software environment.
Control Security Processes
One of the key takeaways from an IT asset management tool perspective is to be able to prevent security breaches before they occur. This can be achieved in two main ways.
First, IAM can help to ensure that proper security protocols are in place before any new software is deployed and implemented. IAM does this by maintaining a directory of approved software and ensuring that only these are introduced into the network environment.
As part of this process, IT can, therefore, check any software requests against this directory list, and quickly determine whether or not it poses any risks. This level of diligence can even be incorporated into the procurement process, ensuring that software is compliant before being purchased.
Second, IAM can be used to optimize user access to the network. By having an up-to-date list of authorized users, and by putting stringent access criteria in place, IAM can act as the first line of defence for your bank’s systems.
Secure Asset Disposal
When IT assets reach the end of their operational lifespans, they are appropriately retired and disposed of. Yet asset disposal represents a key area of risk for financial institutions, as secure information may be retrieved if the assets are not disposed of in a secure fashion.
The Identity Theft Resource Center reports that financial institutions rank in third place with regard to all data breaches at 9.1% in 2015, nearly double the average for 2014. Asset disposal plays a key role in these statistics.
Secure asset disposal is a major area that IT asset management tools seek to streamline. In addition to securing compliance with relevant data privacy laws, IAM can help ensure that sensitive data is fully and properly removed before asset disposal.
However, asset disposal security doesn’t end there. According to Information Technology Asset Knowledge, while data wiping procedures tend to be 99.9% effective, having a trusted vendor complete the data elimination process can provide further reassurance that sensitive information has been deleted.
And as part of your bank’s asset management strategy, it is incumbent upon the IT team to identify the end-point destination of the hardware, ensuring that it doesn’t provide an opportunity for would-be data thieves to harvest data.
As we’ve seen, there are many potential security risks that IT asset management tools and software can help mitigate. By identifying which areas of your bank’s hardware infrastructure are at risk, and putting into place corrective actions to prevent them, IAM can help protect you from unauthorized access.
When your bank needs IAM solutions to ensure that you are operating in a secure environment, Trace Technology Management can help. Contact us today to learn how we can assist you to maximize your bank’s security compliance through all aspects of the IT asset management process.