Financial Services Cybersecurity
Protecting Institutions Against Advanced Threats While Optimizing Cost and Efficiency
The financial services sector is a high-value target for cyberattacks and highly regulated by jurisdictions around the world. Facing constant intrusion attempts and other attacks, IT solutions for financial services often find it difficult to move from a reactive cybersecurity stance to a proactive one. Achieving this goal is complicated by a continually expanding attack surface brought about by new technologies launched through digital innovation initiatives. Adding to this complexity is the need for compliance with a growing number of government regulations regarding the use of financial and personal data.
Protecting extremely sensitive data is a top priority, for both business and compliance reasons. But better security cannot come at the expense of network performance, as consumers and businesses increasingly demand real-time access to every offering, from online and mobile banking to high-frequency trading. At the same time, institutions must control costs and optimize operational efficiency to remain competitive in an industry with many players.
Cybersecurity for Electronic Trading Infrastructures
Electronic trading is a specialty in financial services that requires extremely high deterministic performance in its digital systems. This includes the firewalls that protect traffic between electronic trading platforms and the rest of the financial institution, including systems that provide real-time information to customers. If misleading information is transmitted to the banking side of the business in the first seconds after a transaction—or that information is delayed—customer satisfaction suffers. Often, these problems can be traced to “jitter,” in which small packets of data pass through the firewall in nonsequential order.
Testing at two top global banks confirms that FortiGate data center firewalls (DCFWs) provide the lowest latency in the industry, with near zero jitter. At the same time, they deliver highly scalable protection for traffic moving between electronic trading infrastructures and corporate systems. Built-in intrusion prevention system (IPS), intent-based segmentation with zero trust access, and mobile security features eliminate the need for separate point products for these functions. Single-pane-of-glass visibility improves operational efficiency, and API-enabled automation helps organizations tailor policies and workflows to the unique needs of electronic trading.
These cybersecurity features help organizations achieve business requirements such as:
- Meeting federal regulations on traffic inspection between partners without compromising performance metrics
- Improving security effectiveness by segmenting critical customer and business data
- Improving visibility to facilitate automation and simplify management
Cybersecurity for Infrastructure-as-Code
Companies leveraging automation platforms to deploy infrastructure using an Infrastructure-as-Code (IaC) model realize significant benefits through a streamlined and automated provisioning model. Often used in support of DevOps cycles, IaC means that changes to an organization’s infrastructure can be made quickly and easily. This greatly improves operational efficiency, but it also exposes organizations to potential undiscovered vulnerabilities.
The best way to provide a secure IaC infrastructure is to take a Security-as-Code approach, intentionally building security into the underlying structure of DevOps applications. FortiGate internal segmentation firewalls (ISFWs) leverage intent-based security to intelligently segment infrastructure according to business intent, apply adaptive process control, and provide automated threat protection across the IaC environment. FortiManager and FortiAnalyzer provide centralized network and security management, log correlation, and analytics to enable high performance and robust security from a single console. Fortinet’s open ecosystem enables seamless and deep integration with third-party automation platforms via Fabric Connectors and a robust representational state transfer application program interface (REST API).
A Fortinet Security-as-Code solution protects the IaC infrastructure by:
- Providing protection for critical, time-sensitive network traffic without sacrificing performance
- Segmenting network traffic according to business intent, bolstering compliance and guarding against breaches
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Content Inspection Zone Cybersecurity
No longer is an organization’s infrastructure neatly contained within its in-house data center infrastructure. One recent survey found that 85% of companies operate in multiple public and private clouds. SD-WAN technologies are now routinely moving organizations’ network traffic over the public internet, and Internet-of-Things (IoT) devices are proliferating at the edge. As a result, a perimeter-based approach to cybersecurity is no longer adequate for financial services institutions. It is more effective to think in terms of a content inspection zone—a virtual perimeter that spans corporate data centers, multiple clouds, IoT devices, and network traffic moving on the public internet.
FortiGate next-generation firewalls (NGFWs) utilize purpose-built security processors and comprehensive threat intelligence from FortiGuard Labs to deliver top-rated, high-performance inspection of clear-texted and encrypted traffic. Single-pane-of-glass visibility and control across on-premises and cloud-based environments drives operational efficiency and enhanced security. And the Fortinet Security Fabric enables end-to-end integration of a variety of Fortinet and third-party security tools using Fabric Connectors and an open API. Robust threat intelligence powered by artificial intelligence (AI) underlies the entire security architecture, enabling detection and response to attacks in real time.
An end-to-end, integrated security architecture powered by Fortinet brings many benefits:
- Operational efficiency with the elimination of manual security processes
- Cost avoidance through consolidation of cybersecurity and elimination of redundant licenses
- Simplified compliance reporting, avoiding an all-hands-on-deck approach to audit preparation
- Enhanced security with automated response workflows and real-time threat intelligence
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Secure Networking for Branch Locations
As network traffic increases—especially to and from distant cloud data centers—financial services institutions face increasing costs to maintain acceptable levels of network performance between branch offices and headquarters. Purchasing additional multiprotocol label switching (MPLS) bandwidth is an expensive and time-consuming undertaking, and is not scalable to future network demands. At the same time, remote branches—and edge devices within them—are a target for cyber criminals, who see them as easier to penetrate.
FortiGate Secure SD-WAN enables network traffic to travel securely over multiple connections between branches and headquarters—including the public internet. It eliminates the requirement for all traffic to be routed through the data center for inspection, preventing bottlenecks that result in latency. And it builds scalability into the network infrastructure connecting branch offices with headquarters, thus eliminating future bandwidth investments.
At remote locations, Fortinet SD-Branch enables financial services organizations to combine networking and security capabilities for branch offices—all administered from a single FortiGate NGFW. The solution includes FortiSwitch switches, FortiAP wireless access points, and the FortiExtender LTE WAN extender to ensure secure and high-performance networking at the branch. And the FortiNAC network access control (NAC) solution enables full visibility and control over all IoT devices found at the network edge.
FortiGate Secure SD-WAN and Fortinet SD-Branch enhance security and network performance in the branch network by:
- Enabling security-driven networking, making it harder for adversaries to penetrate the network from a branch location
- Driving operational efficiency by combining networking and security into a single product, centrally controlled through a single device
Advanced Threat Protection
Attacks from adversaries are increasing in volume, velocity, and sophistication, and financial services firms are among the top targets. Security teams that still rely on manual response to incoming threats are overwhelmed with the number of alerts and cannot stop advanced threats that move at machine speed. At the same time, insider threats—malicious and accidental—pose increasing risk to financial sectors as the value of financial services data increases for threat actors.
To combat these threats, IT for financial services must take a two-pronged approach, targeting both malware and the attackers that create it. The foundation of an attack-based defense is robust, real-time threat intelligence. All Fortinet Security Fabric tools leverage comprehensive, artificial intelligence (AI)-powered threat intelligence technology from FortiGuard Labs, based on one of the world’s largest intelligence networks. AI and machine learning (ML) help identify unknown or zero-day threats, which are increasingly common due to adversaries’ use of advanced techniques like polymorphism.
FortiSandbox provides another layer of defense against zero-day threats. It enables unknown files to be examined in a safe location before being allowed onto the network. And since 60% of malware is now encrypted, the secure sockets layer/transport layer security (SSL/TLS) inspection capabilities in FortiGate next-generation firewalls (NGFWs) allow for inspections to include encrypted traffic—without impacting performance.
An attacker-based defense provides an arsenal of tools to identify and neutralize those who would infiltrate the network—whether they are outside or inside the company, and whether their intent is malicious or benign. FortiDeceptor is designed to lure attackers into identifying themselves before they cause damage. And FortiInsight protects against insider threats by continually monitoring users and endpoints for noncompliant, suspicious, or anomalous behavior that suggests compromise.
This two-pronged approach helps organizations deal with the advanced threat landscape by:
- Creating a multilayer defense to detect zero-day threats
- Catching attackers in the act, matching their technological sophistication to identify them and thwart their campaigns
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Key Financial Services Cybersecurity Challenges
Financial services organizations are under constant pressure to contain and reduce costs across their IT environment. Limited cybersecurity budgets require strategic financial and human resource allocation. Given that money and staff time are finite, risk tolerance must be balanced against risk posture, and trade-offs must be made. Adding to these challenges are cybersecurity staff shortages, which make it difficult and expensive to fill certain roles—if they can be filled at all.
The attack surface continues to grow in scope and is increasingly difficult to protect. The proliferation of Internet-of-Things (IoT) devices, the adoption of multiple clouds for business services, and the use of mobile devices by customers and employees rapidly expands the attack surface. As a result, financial services IT solutions deploy more and more point security products to cover the gaps created by the expanding attack surface. The resulting security silos obfuscate visibility—increasing operational inefficiencies and ratcheting up risk.
Lack of integration across the different security elements and architectural fragmentation increase operational inefficiencies. Without integration, many security workflows must be managed manually. In addition to delaying threat detection, prevention, and response, architectural silos create redundancies, increased operational costs, and potential holes in an organization’s cybersecurity posture.
As financial services organizations increasingly embrace cloud applications and infrastructure, the security architecture must be sufficiently agile to enable fast, secure, and compliant public, private, and hybrid cloud-based services while protecting traditional on-premises services from any incident at the same time.
The financial services industry is among the most highly regulated in the world, with personal and corporate financial data residing across the network—from the campus to the data center, to the edge, to the cloud. Cybersecurity for financial companies must be able to demonstrate compliance with multiple regulatory and standards without redeploying employees from strategic initiatives to manually prepare and review audit reports.
Learn More Accompanying infrastructure-as-code through an automation platform with security-as-code to protect the information assets that move through the infrastructure.
Learn More Setting up the entire infrastructure as a content inspection zone that provides broad protection, takes an intent-based approach to trust, and provides visibility and control from a single pane of glass.
Learn More Delivering highly secure and cost-effective connections with branch locations, with consistent security coverage from the internet to the switching infrastructure.
Learn More Leveraging robust, real-time threat intelligence with automated response policies, and limiting access to the network to authorized users doing legitimate work for the company.
Fortinet Differentiators for Financial Services Cybersecurity
FortiGate offers the industry’s lowest latency and jitter rates for electronic trading infrastructures—when microseconds matter. And ensuring secure sockets layer (SSL) and transport layer security (TLS) encryption inspection does not impact network performance.
Visibility and Operational Efficiency
The Fortinet Security Fabric includes a long list of third-party APIs—as well as an open API architecture. This enables financial institutions to integrate disparate security elements distributed across an ever-expanding attack surface into a single-pane-of-glass view.
A comprehensive software-defined branch infrastructure that provides optimal security and improves network performance, from the switching infrastructure to the data center site.
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