MSPs specializing in, or who have clients operating in the financial services sector, should take special note of an annual report highlighting the current risks.
With global turmoil, supply chain issues and the pandemic, the financial services sector is ripe for disruption throughout the remainder of 2022. The report comes from FS-ISAC, which pools cyber-intelligence from a variety of sources and shares it among financial firms around the globe.
“Cybercriminals do what they do for money, and what vertical has the money? Of course, the financial services sector,” says Faust Edwards, a New Orleans fintech expert who studied the FS-IAC report. The full report can be downloaded here.
The report warns that cybersecurity is ‘no longer just a back-office cost.’ Successful breaches could pose critical business risks including operational disruption, lawsuits, and credit downgrades.
“MSPs need to do a better job of selling their security services. If one of your financial services sector clients is successfully hacked, it’ll reflect poorly on the MSP and could expose all stakeholders to liability, regulatory penalties, and perhaps most damaging, reputational harm,” Edwards advises.
The report also cites the rapid digitization of the industry is creating more and more inadequately protected attack surfaces for cybercriminals to exploit.
Best practices for MSPs with financial services clients
Here are some immediate steps MSPs should be implementing for their financial services clients:
1. Know the law
MSPs have many technical concerns on their plate and having to know the law may seem beyond the scope. But, investing time into this is worth the effort.
“Not knowing what you need to know can be very costly,” warns Edwards. He advises retaining a cybersecurity attorney who can provide your MSP with quarterly, or at least annual, updates on any new laws and regulations regarding cybersecurity, as the number of fintech and data protection laws on the books are increasing each year.
“An attorney specializing in cybersecurity is an added cost but seeing how stretched thin MSPs are due to talent shortages, it may be unrealistic to expect someone in the organization to be a de facto lawyer. Instead, outsource the work,” Edwards recommends, adding that the cost of retaining preventative legal counsel is far less than cleaning up a mess later.
2. Zero tolerance for zero day
The FS-IAC report warns of the increasing threat from zero-day attacks. Those are notoriously difficult to defend against.
“And attackers are banking on there being vulnerabilities within the network, that the whole ecosystem isn’t being watched, and that they can find a `soft underbelly,’” Edwards says.
As such, MSPs need to think holistically and continuously monitor an entire client’s ecosystem so that threats or breaches can be detected and contained immediately.
3. Monitor the network
You have to deal with your client’s network, but you also need to consider your network, and not just from a tech standpoint.
Threat detections in fintech can come from many sources, and just like an investigative reporter finds out what is going on from cultivating sources, so can you. Sign up for as many bulletins as you can. Scour Twitter once a week. Sign up for alerts. Talk to other MSPs that have clients in the same verticals.
“You may have all the dots to detect a threat, but it doesn’t matter if you can’t connect them,” Edwards says. Networking is connecting those dots, and that can help prevent a threat.
4. Prioritize user-training
Consider employees a “neighborhood watch.” Just like the police can’t watch every part of a neighborhood every minute, an MSP can’t realistically watch everything, no matter how much they may want to. But with a robust training program, every employee can essentially be “deputized” to spot anomalies, irregularities, and potential intrusions.
“Workers are the best defense against an intrusion. If someone notices something odd happening in a system, on a device, or in a network, train them to spot it and report it,” Edwards states.
5. Watch for insider threats
While the FS-ISAC report focuses on cyber intrusions, there is always the risk of a breach from within when money is involved. So, MSPs need to take special steps to ward off insider threats.
Such steps include making sure physical environments are secured, computers aren’t shared, and multiple checks and balances are in place when accessing secure areas with a lot of data.
“Some of the most potent threats do come from within. Insiders can access data or login tools and sell them on the dark web for more than they can make at the company. It can be a lucrative side hustle, unfortunately,” Edwards warns.
As the financial services sector continues its rapid march towards digitization, the opportunities for hackers to leverage and exploit have never been higher. But this also means increased opportunities for MSPs to step up and provide security.
Photo: Craig Hastings / Shutterstock