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11 Ways to Lock Down Your Financial Firm's IT

Posted on November 04, 2015
IT security virus alert screen shot

By now most financial services firms would agree that IT security is important. Whether you’re concerned about compliance regulations or simply want to put your clients’ minds at ease, it’s wise to evaluate your current network security efforts as you close the year and gear up for 2016.

As hackers have evolved from lone wolves to sophisticated groups and even international money-making operations, IT security has become incredibly complex. Financial firms large and small are doing everything they can to stay one step ahead. Some are even going as far as purchasing cybersecurity insurance and seeking legal advice to ensure they (and their clients) are protected.

The central focus then becomes how to achieve network security in a world where no business is safe. No IT services provider, IT manager, CIO, CTO, or CISO can boast that their setup is bulletproof.

The best way your firm can protect itself is to deploy an IT security plan with many layers, and to add additional layers as they become available and reliable. This plan should include most of the following:

  • Email Anti-Spam Filtering – eliminates known email-based Malware that could help a hacker penetrate your infrastructure before it ever touches your infrastructure.

  • Perimeter Security & Firewalls – blocks unauthorized inbound and outbound access to/from your network, preventing unauthorized intruders from accessing your systems and data—and also adding another layer of Malware protection.

  • Anti-Virus Software – protects endpoints and servers from Malware from most sources, and quarantines Malware that could enable hackers to access your environment.

  • Web Filtering – blocks access to sites that could deliver Malware or other viruses that enable hackers to access your systems and data. 

  • Patch Management – ensures that all aspects of your infrastructure are kept ‘best practice’ for security, reducing threats of Malware or unauthorized access.

  • Backup Data & Recovery (BDR) – having multiple types of data backup (at least two onsite and one offsite) and monitoring tools in place will protect your company’s data and save time and money should you ever need to restore it.

  • Strong Password & Password Updating Policy – ensures employees have passwords that are difficult for a hacker to crack. Requiring updates every 90-120 days adds more protection, because a hacker who manages to access a workstation will lose it within that time frame.

  • Controlled Imaging – ensures that endpoints coming from your provider meet standards for usability, reliability, and security—reducing the threat of security breaches.

  • Email/File Encryption – prevents hackers from being able to read emails or data if they manage to obtain it.

  • Two-Factor Authentication – dramatically reduces the likelihood that a hacker can log in to a remote desktop system.

The Most Important Link to Security: Your Employees

One of the most critical components of your security plan is your employees. Never underestimate the essential role they play in protecting your company’s assets and client data. Do a Google search on anything relating to security breaches, cybersecurity, and employees, and you’ll find dozens of statistics on the matter. A few reports found that up to 75% of cybersecurity issues are caused by employee errors.

By providing education on the latest cybersecurity trends – social engineering, ransomware, spear phishing, vulnerabilities, data sharing etiquette, and more – you increase awareness and give them the tools they need to protect your firm and your clients. 

Finding an Advocate that Can Help

Small- and medium-sized financial firms have the same security concerns as larger entities, but far fewer resources to deploy the IT security plan they need. A growing trend has been to partner with a managed services provider (MSP), who serves as their advocate and trusted advisor. They work hard to secure business-critical data and sensitive information as part of their plan to manage a client’s network and infrastructure.

Visit www.apogeeITservices.com/it-security to learn more about deploying a multi-layer security profile, and the benefits of working with an MSP whose strategy ensures compliance and maximum protection.

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11 keys to network security

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