How to Keep Your Financial Data Compliant

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Finance Insights for ProfessionalsThe latest thought leadership for Finance pros

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Financial data compliance is no laughing matter, and failure to comply with regulations can cost you significantly. Here’s how to avoid a data breach.

Article 3 Minutes

Most organizations will need to keep a lot of financial data, and the larger the company, the more information it’ll need to deal with. This comes with its own challenges; in particular, making sure it’s all stored in a manner that’s compliant with data security regulations such as the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS), the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act in the US, or the General Data Protection Regulation in the EU.

Of course, this is about more than simply abiding by a set of rules. Data compliance exists to keep businesses - as well as their clients and customers - safe from cybercrime. Computer-based threats are the second-most common type of economic crime that affects companies, after asset misappropriation, and should be taken extremely seriously as time goes on.

The cost of an average data breach has been increasing steadily, rising by 12% over the last five years to $3.92 million, so failing to keep your financial data compliant can mean more for your business than a slap on the wrist. Here are some of the best ways you can avoid risk and maintain data compliance as much as possible.

Data masking

This technique is similar to encryption; essentially, all your data is run through an algorithm that turns the information into a string of random, meaningless characters. Members of your organization can then be given permission to access the information using a different algorithm, which translates the data back into English when they access it.

This is an extremely useful solution if you store data in the cloud, like 94% of businesses, as if anyone accesses your database all they’ll be able to download is meaningless gibberish. This is vital when using online storage, as 84% of organizations don’t believe traditional security solutions work in the cloud.

You can also use it to protect data within your organization. Different employees can be given different permissions, meaning someone could access overall salary data but without being able to see the names linked with each wage, for example. This is a crucial way of maintaining compliance with several data security regulations, especially GDPR.

Dedicated anti-malware software

While all malware is a risk to a business, several dedicated programs have been created in the past specifically to access financial data. Financial malware - such as banking Trojans - is responsible for over half of cases in which companies lost data, and part of the reason for this is that traditional antivirus software was found to detect only 25% of these more specialist threats.

There are several alternative antivirus programs that protect specifically against financial threats, and these are worth looking into. Like all software, it’s crucial you keep them updated so they can provide you with protection against as many forms of malware as possible.

Consolidate your systems

The more ways there are to enter your network, the more entry points there are for cybercriminals. Your database is only as strong as its weakest entry point, as can be seen in high-profile cases such as the JPMorgan Chase data breach, where cybercriminals were able to access information via a single server that hadn’t been upgraded to two-factor authentication.

This can also have secondary benefits. As Oracle points out, with fewer entry points it’s easier to implement consistent security policies, as well as to encrypt, audit and patch your data. These are all elements of a solid compliance policy.

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