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Open Banking Is the Future: 5 Ways to Secure Your Network

Open Banking Is the Future: 5 Ways to Secure Your Network

The sharing of financial data across applications is changing how consumers save, manage and spend their money. Here's how financial institutions can secure the next generation of banking.

Open banking is transforming the financial services landscape. The term has become shorthand for the sharing of financial data via application programming interfaces (APIs), a paradigm shift powering expanded consumer services such as mobile checking, online mortgage payments and digital budgeting assistants powered by Artificial Intelligence (AI). 

This burst of innovation creates tremendous opportunity for financial institutions to cross-sell and tailor financial products based on consumer data. However, the open architecture of open banking also poses new security challenges for bank security teams. Add to the mix the privacy requirements mandated by data protection legislation, such as the European Union's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), and it's clear infosec pros in the banking sector are facing a formidable task in finding effective ways to defend their expanding attack surface.

Open banking: 5 ways to secure your network

Here are five basic principles financial organizations can use to manage their open banking security risks.



  1. Look beyond the traditional perimeter and continuously assess your entire environment. As firms adopt new open banking initiatives, they also create cyber exposure gaps attackers can exploit. Adversaries scan a broad range of environments to find the easiest way inside, and most legacy vulnerability management programs are limited to scanning traditional IT environments. This means your team is blind to vulnerabilities in the most dynamic aspects of your attack surface, such as cloud or operational technology (OT) assets. Security teams can improve their visibility by adopting robust and flexible vulnerability management solutions that support continuous assessment across all asset types, no matter where they reside.
  2. Take a holistic view to protect your most critical assets. Compliance frameworks and zero-trust approaches are helpful starting points, but neither offers a complete security solution. Protecting your open banking initiatives requires a multi-pronged approach. Strategic use of privileged access management can help you restrict access to critical systems and key internal data. Addressing misconfigurations in Active Directory can help disrupt attack paths in the event an attacker does gain access. Deploying "jump boxes," or secure workstations for administrators, allow you to manage device access and task execution in special security zones or untrusted environments. As open banking creates a more complex and distributed computing environment, these and other safeguards can limit the ability of attackers to target and steal admin credentials, potentially allowing you to avoid significant harm to the bank.
  3. Focus first on the greatest risks affecting your most critical assets. The open banking environment exacerbates the prioritization crisis already plaguing many cybersecurity teams. Security leaders routinely fail to prioritize critical vulnerabilities effectively. According to Tenable Research, approximately 30 percent of vulnerabilities are never remediated and it takes a median time of 60 days from assessment to remediation, even for critical vulnerabilities at top organizations. By utilizing threat intelligence, vulnerability research and probability data, cyber defenders can distill the most critical risks across their distributed attack surface, focusing on the 3 percent of vulnerabilities that attackers are most likely to exploit. 
  4. Proactively manage risk across third-party partners. Every technology investment you make has long-term implications for your security. In the open banking environment, it is critical to secure connected and software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications via cloud access security brokers (CASB). These enforcement points manage compliance and access policies across the bank and external vendors. They also provide support for configuration monitoring, security and data loss prevention, and you can utilize additional cloud security scanning to verify their effectiveness. Work towards integrating all of your applications into one central identity and access management solution. This will help protect customer data and provide a central platform for compliance monitoring. 
  5. Commit to greater transparency to increase trust. Open banking requires greater transparency around how companies are using consumer data. This philosophy is encapsulated in recent privacy legislation such as the California Privacy Rights Act and Brazil's Lei Geral de Proteção de Dados. Much of the recent legislation is inspired by the EU's GDPR and Payments Service Directive 2 (PSD2). It is a best practice to build consumer trust by being transparent about how data is collected, stored and used, so consumers can make informed choices. In this way, consumers receive the benefits of open banking along with the comfort of knowing they are always in control of their private data.

Conclusion

The open banking era provides unprecedented access to large amounts of consumer data, which also serves as an "open target" for cybercriminals. To maintain customer trust and avoid large potential fines for data breaches, financial organizations must craft an effective approach in managing evolving security threats. Through continuous monitoring of all assets, rigorous assessments of security weaknesses and mitigations around potential attack vectors, financial organizations can stay one step ahead of adversaries and protect the digital future of their business. 

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