Harnessing security and compliance automation for the financial sector in Middle East

Mazen Dohaji, Vice President – iMETA, at LogRhythm discusses the need for the regional banks and financial institutions to simplify their processes with compliance automation as there is a growing requirement for detection and response to weaknesses in authorizations that could put banks, payment transfer systems and financial data at risk.

The financial services sector plays a crucial role in powering the global economy and is responsible for the movement, processing and safekeeping of vast amounts of money and data. Governments and organizations in the Middle East and across the world are increasingly investing in updated security and compliance measures to meet the demands of the digital economy.

The global pandemic has resulted in many people working from home for an extended period. This has led to the need to update many financial services security controls, processes and procedures to meet new requirements. According to the new LogRhythm report, “Security and the C-Suite: Making Security Priorities Business Priorities” , 73% of the respondents surveyed say less secure home networks are used by employees in their organization. 68% of respondents say employees and contractors believe their organization is not monitoring their activities.

With employees using a blend of personal and company devices, financial services security teams now have the challenge of securing a multitude of entry points against cyber criminals.

Advances in security technology, adoption of new regulations, and a shift in attitudes about digital financial services can help keep companies ahead of threat actors. Organizations in the Middle East must ensure their governance and controls are sufficient to protect data security and privacy. At the same time, they also need robust security to combat internal threats.

Protecting Financial Services Operations
Financial institutions are prime targets for attacks. Cybercriminals are reinventing the approaches they’ve previously found successful. Financial services organizations in the Middle East must be able to detect and respond to these attacks. This requires the monitoring of systems and sites for anomalous activity, timely alarms and the ability to respond rapidly by shutting down or quarantining threats.

As well as losing money directly through cyberattacks, financial firms can also be hit by financial penalties if they are shown to have failed to comply with regulations to protect funds. Reputation is another important consideration for the financial sector. Customers need an organization that they can rely on when it comes to security and compliance.

Firewalls, spam filters and antivirus tools are an important first line of defence, but they are not enough. Network and data monitoring support the creation of reports to verify activities, as well as regulatory compliance and auditing requirements. Reporting becomes easy via automated, real-time processes.

Responding to Emerging Threats
The range of potential threats mean it is widely accepted that it is only a matter of time before a financial services organization will face a cyberattack. Financial organizations in the Middle East need automated security measures in place to combat emerging threats.

Addressing the threats and challenges present in the financial services space requires a multi-level approach. The first step is to identify any deficiencies that exist within your IT infrastructure and clearly understand what needs to be improved. Automation tools make it much easier for an organization to comply with guidelines and offer a series of paths that can be followed to reach compliance.

Financial services security teams need to focus on IT infrastructure and network process automation across their organization’s entire environment. Automation tools allow security analysts to rapidly respond to threats and compliance violations. Organizations can identify areas of non-compliance in real time using prebuilt investigations and alarms that allow for immediate analysis of activities that impact critical systems.

To become compliant with the latest regulations, financial services organizations can harness the power of machine learning to spot anomalous activities. Machine learning can perform forensic analysis of a previous threat to determine what the exploit looks like and how analytics can be pre-configured to address specific scenarios and trigger alarms.

Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) platforms serve as the foundation, while security monitoring across systems provides visibility of the organization’s activities. Deploying a SIEM platform allows financial services security teams to gain deep visibility into user activity, helping detect insider threats, compromised accounts, privileged account abuse and other user-based threats.

Automation systems provide financial organizations with an evolved set of solutions. By removing the complexity of dealing with threats manually, automation enables security teams to quickly document evidence of compliance with predefined reports and leverage customization capabilities that fit their company’s specific IT environment and policies.

Taking Compliance to the Next Level
Financial service organizations in the Middle East can simplify their security processes with automation systems built for providing enhanced capabilities and efficiencies. With the right security solutions in place, the financial sector can effectively mitigate cyber-attack risks before they have to chance to cause damaging consequences.

Taking the time to fully assess security compliance and implement automation is essential to ensure Middle Eastern organizations are best placed to withstand the constantly evolving threat landscape. Embracing the capabilities of automation technologies enables organizations to successfully mitigate business disruption, meet compliance requirements and minimize potential financial loss in the future.