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The finance sector has been in the news a lot lately, but not because of the economy or the state of the stock market. Over the past few years, banking and credit providers have taken the spotlight due to record-setting breaches that put consumer information at risk.
Online commerce has always posed an element of risk. There’s the chance that your personal information will be sold or traded without your permission, or that a hacker will steal your data and access your accounts or sell parts of your identity on the black market. Day trading and speculation also include some risk, which shouldn’t be compounded by fears about the integrity of your data.
The Case for Data Collection
Advanced technology has made it easier to collect and store immense amounts of information and perform tasks with more efficiency and accuracy. This capability helps with everything from strategic planning to customer service. Companies have a desire for a more refined relationship with customers in their drive for data collection and analysis. Consumers also crave a more personal, tailored experience, but they worry about the unintended consequences of providing so much information.
How Much Information is Too Much?
Laws like Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) were written to provide a set of guidelines and standards for data collection and storage. They’re an attempt by governments to force transparency and accountability on organizations that rely on data, and it gives consumers more control over how much of their information is collected and how it can be used.
In an effort to take security into their own hands, business owners, organizations, and individuals turned to virtual private networks (VPNs). This type of encryption permits access from any location without sacrificing data integrity or security. It has provided peace of mind to anyone concerned with privacy and access, especially in oppressive environments.
But the solutions is no longer enough.
In an era when even location-driven information is enhanced by artificial intelligence and machine learning technology, privacy protection is harder to guarantee. For example, the popularity of Contracts for Difference (CFD) speculation has grown at a rate that has outpaced the ability to conduct proper oversight.
Risk Factors: How Vulnerable is Your Information?
It’s always the biggest breaches that make the news, but bad press doesn’t highlight the extent or severity of the situation. The fact is, 70% of enterprises in the finance sector have experienced some form of data-related security incident over the past year.
This underlines the need for updated security technology to protect investors and their assets.
The biggest risk factors that contribute to data loss are:
- Hardware and system malfunctions
- Human error/lack of oversight
- Software/device corruption
- Malware and viruses
- Natural disasters
Many of these factors are preventable with education and training. In addition to heeding best practices such as monitoring, creating a reliable backup/restore system, and restricting access via authentication and encryption, developers must find ways to reduce the attack surface and introduce the same machine learning technology that makes businesses more efficient.
On the frontline of data protection are the people involved. Make sure that your employees and vendors are thoroughly educated in proper data collection, storage, and disposal. They should also have an understanding of how to identify common threats like suspicious email attachments and links and they should be aware of the consequences of failure to follow procedures and processes.
Organizations should have a set of guidelines particular to their industry and laws or regulations regarding data collection and access, and make sure that it’s widely distributed at all levels of the organization and during employee onboarding. Limiting practices like BYOD, segmenting networks and IoT devices, and not using unidentified USB sticks and unsupported apps will also limit exposure.
Technology should be implemented as a safety net that runs behind the scenes to block intruders and keep employees on the safe side of the equation. That means greater investment by organizations in advanced security technology. This has the added benefit of cost-efficiency, since AI and ML are self-correcting and scalable.
An alternative to using a VPN for access and privacy control might be a software-defined wide area (SD-WAN) network. These networks are designed to counteract some of the issues with VPNs when used for accessing financial services online, especially in widely distributed networks.
They can provide:
- Cost Savings: Which can be up to 80 percent lower than traditional WAN infrastructure
- Simplicity: Via easier setup and shorter time to launch
- Agility: As there’s no need to wait for rollout when services can be launched on-demand, improving delivery and eliminating downtime
- Scalability: Which is essential in a fast-paced, high-growth industry
- Virtualization: Which enables the increased agility, speed, and scalability of SD-WANs. All functionality can be managed through the software and segmented by branch or network
- Improved Security: Which is needed since everything is controlled at the network edge. That means all of your resources are unleashed when the data is in-transit. Network segmentation ensures limited fallout if one app is compromised, and the virtual overlay is centralized to reduce security risks and redundant configuration.
According to University of Ohio professor Bernhard Debatin:
“The notion of privacy has changed over time,” says Debatin. “In post-modern, information-based societies, the issue of data protection and informational privacy has become central, but other aspects [such as old-school, bodily privacy] still remain relevant. In other words, over time, the concept of privacy has become increasingly complex.”
The internet has redefined how we do business by removing barriers like time and geographic location. Not only has this environment allowed eCommerce to flourish, it has energized the financial sector and made day trading an accessible and potentially lucrative past-time. However, until data security is able to catch up to the market, there could be more at risk than your initial investment.