How to Protect Yourself from the Next Vulnerability Before it Hits

When you hold the keys to the money, you become a prime target for cyberthieves. Malicious acts of cybercrime continue to plague financial institutions, with the Verizon 2018 Data Breach Investigations Report revealing that ransomware was found in 39 percent of cases where malware was identified.

The risk is real and as the Verizon report wisely reminds us, it is way too easy for just about anyone to wreak havoc on a bank’s operations. According to the report, “…you don’t have to be a master criminal; off-the-shelf toolkits allow any amateur to create and deploy ransomware in a matter of minutes.”

Why is ransomware particularly challenging to stop? Due to limited budgets and a lack of internal IT resources, particularly at small financial institutions, many IT groups operate in reactive mode when it comes to cybersecurity — putting out fire drills rather than adopting preventative measure to effectively keep threats at bay.

Plus, there are two lines of thinking that lead organizations to believe they are immune:

  • We have a solid security solution in place that hasn’t failed us yet; and
  • We wouldn’t be a target of a major attack

Obviously, you don’t want to fall victim to an attack to truly understand you’re vulnerable. But, that’s what it takes for many.

Traditional intrusion detection technology and patch management solutions are also feeding into the fire drill mentality, as they either can’t or don’t stop an attack, but rather attempt to detect or contain a compromise that has already occurred. By the time the issue is discovered and the patch installed, the damage is often already done — leaving you scrambling to react.

If Attackers Don’t See What They Want, They’ll Move On

Imagine a burglar peering through the back window of a house. If they see a bare-bones room with nothing of value, they likely keep moving. But, if there’s a door slightly ajar that leads to a space with high-value items, they will sneak right in.

In our always-connected world, with countless devices connected to your business and networked systems connected to the internet, attackers have open doors at their fingertips. However, there are certain parts of your business that have no reason to be visible to the rest of the world and shouldn’t be connected to even the most secure perimeter.

In the financial world, the importance of isolating these functions becomes even more important. For example, while customers expect to be able to manage their accounts online or on their personal devices, they also expect that their sensitive, personal data will be secure. Banks have taken a number of measures such as multi-factor authentication to provide that level of security, but the best way to truly protect customer data from malicious hackers is to make it invisible.

In an industry like financial services where divorcing yourself from the physicality of interconnected devices is next to impossible, it is critical to deploy isolation and containment tactics throughout your infrastructure. It’s time to determine what applications and information actually needs to touch the outside world and what can be separated from the internet to provide complete protection.

Autonomous Network Segmentation (ANS) allows organizations to stop vulnerabilities at the source by isolating devices and network infrastructures from the rest of your IT environment — making it invisible to hackers and to the public. As a result, ANS eliminates vulnerabilities at the source by isolating and cloaking devices themselves, making them invisible to hackers and the public network. This drastically reduces the attack surface of the network before attackers can penetrate network barriers and move laterally to cause serious damage.

In today’s high-risk climate, segmenting and isolating your most critical infrastructure is what’s needed to protect you from vulnerabilities posed by connected devices, networks and people. And, the added beauty of this approach is that it enables security connectivity across your entire organizations, without costly or time-consuming IT involvement.

By taking advantage of network segmentation and isolating your operational infrastructure, you help make your network invisible to malicious attackers, so they don’t see a target worth their time and move on.


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