Enhancing Cyber Resilience in Banking: Leveraging Live Patching to Combat Rising Threats

Now more than ever, banks and financial institutions are facing unprecedented challenges in combating the increasing onslaught of cybercrime. As the digital landscape continues to evolve, hackers are becoming more sophisticated and even geopolitical in their tactics as they relentlessly target the systems, websites and applications within the financial ecosystem. Despite hefty regulations, the industry continues to be categorized as a high risk target. This is largely due to ever-increasing digital dependence and the wealth of stored private data that can be available at a hacker’s fingertips. The opportunities for financial gain from a breach are significant for a cybercriminal, making it a tantalizing victim for repeated attacks. A successful phishing scam or breach can not only damage the trust and reputation of an institution, it can also expose customers to identity theft, fraud and other forms of exploitation.

The High Stakes of Digital Dependance

As a global system that’s interconnected in various ways with a heavy reliance on digital access, a single breach within the financial sector can cause far-reaching chaos involving fellow banking partners, customers, shareholders and the economy as a whole. With society continuing to lean toward a cashless approach to everyday transactions and becoming more reliant upon online transactions, banks have no choice but to increase their levels of innovation. The rapid digitalization of such banking services has not only expanded the attack surface for security threats, but it has also increased the need for the prioritization of physical and cybersecurity solutions.

Unfortunately, the manual processes, difficulty in retaining top talent, and the complexity of tools, many organizations find themselves with an inability to properly mitigate and respond to incidents. This lack of readiness can leave the entire financial ecosystem vulnerable to threats, especially as security challenges become more nuanced and elaborate in nature. As Q2 arrives, adopting a more holistic approach to security over traditional methods is crucial to protecting not only assets but valuable customer relationships.

Compliance Is More Than a Box Check

Placing cybersecurity at the core of a financial institutions risk management framework involves identifying and assessing cybersecurity risks, implementing mitigation controls, and continuously monitoring and updating these controls as the threat landscape evolves. It also includes maintaining a variety of regulatory standards and guidelines aimed at safeguarding customer data and ensuring the overall integrity of financial systems. But while compliance requirements such as PCI DSS, SEC, and OCC guidelines provide a foundation for cybersecurity within the financial industry, relying solely on these mandates can create a false sense of security.

Customers expect and rely on their financial institutions to prioritize the security and protection of other sensitive information with effective security measures. With the notable increase in attacks targeting the financial sector, it is no longer a matter of “if” banks or credit unions will be attacked, but “when” this will occur. Because of this, assessing response times and testing through routine simulation how each organization will respond to a breach is important in preventing human errors during a real attack. A fast response to a detected threat is key to mitigating the damage it can cause to the business. An effective incident response plan that maps out and allows the organization to practice its responses before being placed under the pressure of an active compromise is imperative to finding gaps in cybersecurity defenses.

Live Patching Is at the Core of a Secure Framework

One of the bigger challenges that financial institutions face when trying to establish stronger security measures is the lack of available adequate IT staff, not to mention maintaining ongoing, effective training. For example, meeting specific cybersecurity regulations for PCI DSS requires implementing certain patching timelines, or risk hefty financial penalties. But traditional methods of patch management can be highly disruptive to a business, requiring extensive downtime for online systems and hours of work for busy IT teams. This not only jeopardizes customer satisfaction and daily operations, it also causes delays in productivity for security teams. As a result, the patching process gets pushed to the back burner more often than not. Instead of immediately applying a security patch to an open vulnerability, security personnel may delay it by weeks or even months until it better fits into the maintenance schedule.

Delaying the process of patch management only makes vulnerabilities more accessible to cybercriminals and can cause notable damage to internal systems. Live patching offers a solution to this problem by directly applying security patches as they become available without any reboots or scheduled downtime needed. By automating the process, code can be updated in memory without causing any disruptions to operations around them and patches can be applied quickly and efficiently. When vulnerabilities are closed as soon as they are discovered, not only does risk become greatly reduced, but it also helps firms meet the tight patching deadlines set forth by compliance mandates.

Given these challenges, the financial sector’s future security posture hinges on their ability to embrace innovative security measures that go beyond basic traditional defenses. The complete integration of technology like live patching can be one of the most versatile and useful tools in the security toolbox of an organization. By choosing to invest in robust security measures and demonstrating a commitment to safeguarding sensitive information, institutions can not only mitigate the risks associated with cyber attacks but also strengthen their reputation and competitiveness in the marketplace for years to come.

Joao Correia serves as Technical Evangelist at TuxCare (www.tuxcare.com), a global innovator in enterprise-grade cybersecurity for Linux.


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