Data is a commodity that has value just like any other: It can be used to pay for products and services (most free apps use your data in exchange for access), it can be bought and sold, and as we all know, it can change hands. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always fall into the right ones, and so for a bank – which is responsible for both our money and our priceless financial data – security is of the utmost importance.
As they say, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” So most banks having already found the right security approach for their legacy, closed off, and internal IT systems means that they are hesitant to embrace new technology – this might tip the scales in the favor of hackers. It might also make them more profitable, but upgrading infrastructure comes with new security complications that are a roadblock – because a data breach trumps any business advantage. Right now, cloud technology is in the epicenter of this dilemma.
If there are two sides of the fence, on one side is the cloud’s immense potential for bank customer service and competitiveness, and on the other, the need for significant investment and security due diligence that comes with any change to the status quo. The cloud can help banks diminish their core costs and overheads by eliminating hardware and the need to maintain it. It can also help to roll out new financial products and services to customers more quickly, and scale them inexpensively as demand waxes and wanes.
Despite these benefits the transition to the cloud is daunting, and outside of retail or commercial banks, it is happening at a snail’s pace. Of total spending on the cloud, banking accounts for only 10.6% in 2020, according to IDC. Reasons for hesitation include difficulties configuring cloud solutions to both work together and with legacy tools, which may create unanticipated (and intolerable) gaps in defense. Furthermore, banks may feel as if they lose control by offloading internal processes to third-party cloud providers, putting them at these providers’ mercy. Compliance is an obvious issue to be concerned about as well, and the extra degree of separation between banks and their cloud-based resources doesn’t inspire confidence at first.
This hesitation is more unfounded as time passes, however, because the cloud is changing quickly and so is the security surrounding it. For their part, banking perspectives on the issue are changing in tandem.
Banks can now be relatively confident that security will be tight as they embrace the cloud, since data isn’t the only thing that’s been commoditized; so has security. Cloud providers invest heavily in their defenses and for many industries, they offer greater safety out-of-the-box than customers can achieve with their own investment in IT. Banks appreciate these assurances, but still have enough at stake to need more.
In their efforts to avoid a long and complicated process, reduce risk, and front load cloud benefits, executives sometimes see cloud adoption as an “all or nothing” idea. However, the “lift and shift” approach is getting more traction, as it moves parts of their infrastructure to the cloud in piecemeal fashion, based on the importance of the workload and other factors. Many banks are adopting this hybrid cloud model and taking their first baby steps into the 21st century, but if the piecemeal approach is going to be taken, their networks will get complicated quickly and will be in constant transformation.
This requires a security solution that is more comprehensive than what providers offer, and one that can flex as the network perimeter shifts.
A bank requires a simple security solution that makes data protection easy, no matter how mix-and-match their infrastructure looks during the various stages of its cloud migration. While hybrid cloud models help banks meet the expectations of demanding and digitally adept customers, they also allow banks to keep sensitive processes internal, and to encourage data protection in diverse environments. Hybrid cloud security is also easier for banks to obtain these days, with SaaS security solutions that more easily integrate into both local and cloud environments.
Network as a Service products help IT professionals apply a plethora of security tools such as DNS filtering, Wi-Fi security, VPN encryption, and multi-factor authentication across the various resources that make up a bank’s network – no matter if it’s local server storage or a popular software consumed “as a Service”. The seamless level of integration covers more bases as the network slowly migrates to the cloud, but NaaS is also especially suited to the hybrid approach because it allows IT to segment the network and restrict access within it, not just into it.
Accordingly, just-migrated bank resources can enjoy multilayered security and yet also be inaccessible to only the roles (and devices) held by IT higher-ups, until they are confident that compliance is achieved. Security can be easily tuned to the changes made to a bank’s network throughout its cloud transformation, with scalable and secure access policies and a quilt of tools that will have any hacker think twice about attempting to get at its data. With time otherwise spent on maintenance, IT is freed up to pursue profit-seeking initiatives.
It takes a lot for banks to be confident in their security, but cloud advancements have extended to security ideas, and make upgrading infrastructure a win-win proposition. With confidence in the cloud’s compliance and safety, banks are able to morph in pursuit of better service, without concern for how customers or their data are affected. Now that this piece of the puzzle is finally in place, banks can go full speed ahead into the cloud, and soon, customers will feel the change in both better financial services and the gradual yet pronounced lack of big hacks hitting the headlines. It’s hard to estimate which will be more welcome.