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Digital Shifts in Retail Banking Require an Integrated Security Architecture

The COVID-19 pandemic is accelerating consumer preference for mobile and online banking. In April 2020 alone, there was a 200% jump in new mobile banking registrations worldwide, and an 85% rise in mobile banking traffic.1 As a result, many retail banks are fast-tracking the adoption of new digital tools, services, and capabilities to support recommended preventative measures, meet growing customer demands, and keep online-centric competitors from siphoning off-market share.

  • Published: 26-04-2022

  • Related Category: Security Operations

  • Type of Content: Reports

  • Owner: Fortinet


Executive Overview

The accelerated pace of digitization in banking comes with challenges, from an expanded network attack surface to a rising volume of targeted attacks, and ever-increasing regulatory pressure. With any successful breach having the potential to ruin even robust financial institutions, CISOs must work with their executive leadership to prioritize a comprehensive cybersecurity strategy aligned to the current push to digitize.

A Mad Rush To Adopt New Banking Tools

Until recently, retail banks around the world have been slow to adopt digital innovation. Bank executives frequently cite cybersecurity and privacy concerns (80%), outdated data management (68%), and identifying the right partners (73%) as primary barriers to moving to an online banking platform.2 But as COVID-19 accelerates the digital transition for many organizations, cybercriminals are looking to take advantage. Since the early days of the pandemic, banks have seen a 238% surge in cyberattacks.3

Among direct financial losses, lost revenue due to network downtime, brand degradation, legal costs, and regulatory penalties, a single, successful security breach can cause millions of dollars in damages and ultimately ruin even a robust financial organization.

Typical barriers to success include overly complex IT and security infrastructure, a rising tide of sophisticated attacks, new compliance requirements, and a lack of skilled security talent available to help implement and manage cyber defenses. To embrace digital change under these less-than-optimal conditions, financial leaders must make smart decisions with the overall health and resiliency of their institutions in mind. And this begins by embracing cybersecurity at a cultural level across the organization.

Over half (57%) of consumers now say they prefer internet banking (up from 49% pre-COVID-19), and 55% now prefer banking mobile apps (compared with 47% previously).4

The average total cost of a single data breach in 2020 is $3.86 million.5

How Can Banks Mitigate the Risks of Digitalization?

Even before COVID-19, retail banks were under tremendous pressure to compete with a variety of newcomers, from online-only suitors to major companies like Apple, Amazon, and Facebook launching services designed to displace traditional banking. The rush to catch up in the digital innovation race greatly multiplies all the inherent risks. With increasing technology adoption and a growing number of organizations being targeted each day for theft, damage, or disruption, banks need to reevaluate their cybersecurity as an enabler during this transition— and perhaps the most important one.

While reevaluating security defenses may seem like another daunting task under already stressful conditions, an effective cybersecurity strategy for digital banking systems starts with just four key capabilities:

  • Ensure visibility across the digital attack surface
  • Deploy protection against sophisticated threats
  • Adapt an intelligent and structured security architecture
  • Simplify compliance processes

In a recent global survey, only 40% of respondents said they expect to return to physical bank branches post-COVID-19—indicating that the shift to online is likely to stay.6

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