5 Questions Banks Should Ask When Evaluating Cloud-Based Security Solutions

When banks move to the cloud, the top challenges are a) security and b) regulatory compliance. Evaluating cloud-based security solutions for financial institutions is something that calls for thorough research, planning, and investigation.

Banks are rapidly investing in cloud solutions thanks to the cloud’s enhanced security and cost-reducing abilities. Implementing cloud technology seems risky for banks initially – many financial organizations are used to hosting their own security without compromise – but it’s riskier for banks not to utilize cloud security with the odds of a breach increasing every year. Verizon’s 2019 Data Breach Investigations Report found that 10% of all data breaches occur in the financial sector and that internal actors were responsible for one in three breaches. The insider threat should be a primary concern for organizations – to circumvent data breaches and internal threats, organizations need the right cloud security solution. To leverage the most effective option, rely on the following questions for guidance.

1.    Where and how is my data being stored by this cloud security solution?

Whether your bank relies on in-house data storage servers or outsources the process to a third-party vendor, where and how a cloud security solution stores data is critical to address. Cloud environments differ from traditional IT setups, which host servers on-premise. Instead, cloud data is most likely stored remotely with the freedom to move around, which can reduce costs and maximize resource management to achieve better business results.

However, because data may be transferred or stored remotely, your organization may be responsible for abiding with data protection regulations like SOX or GDPR. Most regulations have specific requirements regarding the management, storage, access, and disposal of data, which can influence your technology acquisition. Some solutions may not be compliant with financial industry and banking regulations. When evaluating cloud-based security solutions, ask vendors to specify where the data will be stored, how, and who has access to any sensitive information.

2.    What regulations must our bank comply with, and does the cloud-based solution also comply?

Before you can invest in a cloud security solution, you must know what your organization is legally responsible for in terms of maintaining the privacy and security of sensitive personal information. Banks typically store data like account numbers, PINs, social security numbers, and addresses, all of which are considered personally identifiable information (PII). The management of PII is protected legally by various regulations that banks should consider when evaluating cloud-based security solutions, including:

  • GDPR (EU General Data Protection Regulation)
  • SOX (Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002)
  • GLBA (Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act)
  • FINRA (Financial Industry Regulatory Authority)
  • PCI DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard)
  • CCPA (California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018)

In addition to formal regulations, multiple industry standards and frameworks inform cloud security solutions. ISO 27001 and NIST Cybersecurity Framework are two common examples that many financial institutions model their cybersecurity programs after and rely on when vetting solutions.

When evaluating a potential security solution, ensure its compliance with necessary data privacy regulations for banks and financial institutions. For example, GLBA requires organizations to implement an information security plan that outlines how it safeguards private personal information. PCI DSS necessitates that you continuously track and monitor all access to network resources and cardholder data. If you’re responsible for complying with GLBA and PCI DSS, your cloud solutions must align with those requirements.

Whether you choose security information and event management (SIEM), data loss prevention (DLP), a cloud access security broker (CASB), user activity monitoring, or a combination of tools, selecting a cloud security solution that complies with industry regulations can streamline your regulatory compliance process, secure data, and enable intelligent governance. When signing a cloud contract agreement, ensure that it addresses both the provider’s obligations for safeguarding any sensitive data as well as your ability to remain compliant.

3.    Which security tool will help us proactively prevent data breaches?

For financial institutions, protecting data is of the utmost importance. Breaches cause consumers to lose trust – without trust, banks have no business. A data breach can lead to a series of consequences that includes fines, reputational damage, a weakened security infrastructure, and other ramifications that add up – the average total cost of a data breach in 2018 was $3.86 million. Therefore, proactive breach prevention efforts are critical for every bank’s security posture.

By layering security measures, including a combination of both traditional on-premise and cloud solutions, banks can create a more reliable, secure, and trustworthy environment. A user activity monitoring solution at the application layer can detect abnormal user activity in applications like Salesforce, which can mitigate insider threats.

4.    Will this cloud-based solution work for multiple environments?

Financial organizations rely on various environments and applications like CRM and ERP systems for daily business functions. Because many of these are cloud-based, certain cloud security solutions can protect more than just a single CRM or database. During your evaluation, identify solutions that integrate with multiple environments, such as Office 365 for email, Box for documents, Salesforce, and Duo. This can streamline your security efforts and provide a comprehensive view of multiple environments with detailed insights on the activities occurring within. Integration will help minimize your tech stack and promote simplified application management across your ecosystem.

5.    How quickly can we implement this technology, and is it easy to use?

Ultimately, what IT and security teams really need to know is: how quickly can we get this tool up and running, and how difficult is it to use? For example, complex, code-based solutions like SIEMs can be effective tools for security, but they require a dedicated IT staff and vast resources to set up, maintain, and operate. Plus, implementing a SIEM system can take weeks or months. Other cloud security solutions are more user-friendly and can be utilized by every team member, from the most tech-savvy admins to those who are more business-minded. Better yet, some tools can be installed and running in a matter of hours or days, helping you secure data and meet compliance requirements rapidly.

Evaluate the platform’s ease of use and implementation speed to value in order to determine if it’s the right fit for your organization’s needs.

By understanding your compliance requirements, data storage and access management, ability to proactively detect insider threats, integration capabilities, and speed to value, you should be able to determine which cloud security solution is the most robust choice for your bank’s needs. When vetting vendors, ask as many questions as necessary to obtain the information you need to make an informed decision. With the security and integrity of your organization on the line, cloud security is no place to cut corners or compromise.

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