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Financial Services

Over the last few years banks and financial institutions continue to operate in an uncertain macroeconomic environment which necessitated greater regulatory oversight into their business operations. In such an environment it becomes imperative for banks to embark upon business transformations to achieve

  • Greater operational effectiveness (process simplicity, reduced cycle time and minimal user intervention);
  • Greater customer satisfaction, loyalty and retention;
  • Increased visibility in, planning for and effective utilization of their financial resources;
  • Total regulatory compliance

Business transformations, more often than not, necessitates rationalization of the application landscape to reduce the total cost of ownership and achieve greater scalability. Banks and financial institutions are increasingly looking at partners who can effectively manage and deliver each stage of their transformation process.

Data Analytics

Data and analytics provides a few very big opportunities for banks. At some level, it is a way to transform the institution, much the way in the 1980s and 1990s and early 2000s IT and systems basically transformed every single bank in terms of how IT applied to different business processes from a cost-reduction standpoint, and from a revenue-generation standpoint.

Almost every single major decision to drive revenue, to control costs, or to mitigate risks can be infused with data and analytics. Typically, the near-end applications in marketing and customer-sales leads and lead generation and on risk management. Both are disciplines that have historically used information pretty well. Now at the next frontier in terms of using both data and analytics to drive revenue generation through marketing, through next-product-to-buy, through lead-mining models like that, as well as to drive better risk decisions.

Advanced-analytics opportunity quite simply is an opportunity to redefine the playing field. But only some banks will seize that opportunity and will be able to truly differentiate themselves using data and analytics. These will be the banks that in the early days used ATMs to truly create competitive advantage for a few years. Some banks in the early days of the Internet truly created a differentiated position online for themselves.

Data and analytics will be a differentiator for some period of time, with other banks playing catch-up. So there’s an opportunity here, as an institution, to be thoughtful about where to make some smart, targeted investments. Do you use data and analytics to drive growth in the business, to drive better risk behaviors in the business, and to reduce costs across the business? And that can be a huge differentiator.

Cyber Security

Apart from data analytics services, Definitive Strategic Consulting also provides cyber security services to financial services institutions. Our consultants work with these banks and investment companies to protect fraudulent transactions and computer network attacks/exploitation (CNA/CNE) attacks against the private bank networks.

In this economic environment and fast-evolving marketplace, survival depends on business agility and cost savings. This means using cloud technologies to launch new products and services and developing self-service portals and mobile apps to retain and attract customers who expect to complete transactions instantly by connecting to back-end systems. At the same time, cyber attacks have become more numerous and sophisticated. During a recent presentation at the US Federal Reserve, the FBI noted that cybercrime is growing exponentially as web-enabled technology permeates every facet of our lives. For banks in particular, there is a great deal at stake – a breach in security can result in monetary loss, a fall in consumer confidence and irreparable damage to the brand. A good example is Zeus, a sophisticated and malicious piece of code that steals banking information by logging keystrokes on infected computers. When a hacker network repurposed Zeus to obtain banking credentials and hack into bank accounts, it managed to steal $70 million.

Financial services companies need a strategy that embeds information security into the heart of their global business processes and operations, and secures company data wherever it may reside. It wasn’t long ago that companies felt secure if their perimeter was secure, but with today’s technologies, security concerns go well beyond protecting internal systems. They extend all the way to cyberspace. Banks must challenge their traditional approach to information security by ensuring that cybercrime is on the corporate risk management agenda at the level of credit and market risks. Only by giving it this level of priority will information security be effective across the whole organization.

One challenge for banks in this area is that information security has traditionally been the remit of the IT department alone, with little or no ‘airtime’ at the executive or board levels. Without sufficient business support and stakeholder engagement, the result is that security projects can fall through the cracks, focus on the wrong area or address only parts of the problem.

  • Ensuring buy-in from key stakeholders: Buy-in from key stakeholders is essential for successfully implementing information security projects. Business stakeholders must be actively involved in the definition and oversight of projects to keep the program on track and to deliver the desired results. For the program to be adopted throughout the organization, leaders must also ensure that all aspects of the program – from initial asset identification to review of outcomes – are described in terms that make sense to the business, not just the technical teams.
  • Identifying the highest risk assets across the business: There is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ strategy for cyber security, especially if the attack is targeted at one organization: a hacker looking to steal bank account details will take a different approach to one trying to compromise trading systems. It is therefore important for banks to develop a cyber security strategy that is tailored to its unique information assets and risk profile. The first step is to define the information assets and their importance to the business, considering factors such as the potential impact on operations, reputation and profit if those assets were compromised. The next step is to develop a realistic view of threats against those assets and the likelihood of exposure so as to prioritize efforts towards the assets with highest business risk. Complete protection is impossible, so a pragmatic approach may be to focus protection on the highest priority risks and rely on recovery and response contingencies for the lower risk assets.
  • • Ensuring employees play their essential part in information security: When it comes to traditional risks like money laundering, banks and financial institutions not only use technology controls but also educate their employees extensively. Similarly in the case of information security, banks must recognize the people component and go beyond implementing one-dimensional, technology-focused IT security solutions to restrict potentially harmful behavior and activity. The 2012 Verizon data breach investigation report says 97% of breaches were avoidable through simple or intermediate controls, including training and policies. Hence banks and financial institutions must focus on setting up practical, easy-to-follow policies as well as educating people on best practices and the importance of compliance.
  • Assessing and managing the risks from third-party handlers: As with monitoring counterparty risks for their key vendors, banks should manage cyber security risks arising from third party information handlers such as cloud service providers, legal counsel and email marketers who have access to the bank’s data. Last year, a cyber-attack on Epsilon – an email marketing firm that handles more than 2,500 clients – resulted in exposing customer email information of many top banks including Citibank, Barclays and J.P. Morgan and others. Banks must constantly review what information is shared with third parties and ensure that vendors have appropriate measures in place to prevent as well as to recover from cyber attacks.

Our deep industry knowledge and our skills in consulting, technology and innovation allow our teams to challenge conventional thinking and overcome every obstacle to give you exceptional results.

Data Loss Prevention

Data loss prevention incorporates a risk-balanced strategy along with leading data protection technology to more cost effectively help safeguard your organization’s critical data. We help optimize your level of control by providing both consulting services to establish your data protection strategy and implementation and integration services using market-leading loss prevention and encryption technologies.

Our streamlined approach helps optimize investments in leading security technology by using the existing infrastructure to support collaboration across your entire enterprise. We help you develop a data protection strategy that aligns with your risk management objectives and provides insight into where sensitive data resides in your organization and how it is used. With our services, you can more reliably reduce the risk of data loss and better manage regulatory compliance.

Definitive Strategic Consulting understands that DLP programs must integrate with business practices before the solution is deployed. Our DLP Consulting Services team maps life cycle strategy to a customized master plan that generates and ensures the effectiveness of each customer’s DLP program. Our approach does not solely focus on bits and bytes like other data protection companies, but uses a proprietary approach to leverage data protection solutions. This approach focuses on the critical assets and resources that have the greatest potential to affect a customer’s bottom line.

Definitive Strategic Consulting loyalty is exclusive to customers, not to any one vendor. This customer-centric focus and multi-vendor approach gives each customer assurance that their DLP solution is customized to their specific needs and objectives. With product evaluation, our consulting services employs a holistic approach, evaluating several key factors to ensure the right DLP technology is selected including:

  • Program Scope (What are we protecting?)
  • Organizational Structure and Overview
  • Business Priorities (Needs, Concerns, Drivers)
  • Existing Assets Infrastructure (Network, Storage, Desktop)
  • Strategic Deployment and Evolution
  • Success Criteria and End-state Goals

After reviewing the various components of a customer’s organizational structure and operating environment, Definitive Strategic Consulting builds a calculated recommendation of which product most effectively satisfies their needs. The right product is selected using our extensive professional experience, proven track record and DLP acumen.

Definitive Strategic Consulting analyzes every dimension of a client’s organizational structure and operating environment to identify the vital data protection requirements using detailed research and assessment techniques. After identifying baseline business drivers, the customer’s system and policies are prioritized, incorporated, tested and revised to ensure the DLP program is not static and reactive, but proactive and predictive. The result is a DLP program that achieves business objectives, easily adapts to changes in the operating environment and performs at its optimal level.

Definitive Strategic Consulting’s data loss prevention supports your organization in preparing a high-level strategy and roadmap to locate, identify, categorize, and protect critical data within your company’s information technology networks. While the focus area originated out of years of research, our services tailors each session specifically to suit your organization’s DLP strategy. You will benefit from a full evaluation of your DLP program and from the benchmark insights developed by other companies as they managed and adapted to the growing risk of data leakage in the enterprise.

Definitive Strategic Consulting wants customers to use their DLP solution to accomplish their business needs without being burdened with false positives. By providing solutions in a methodical and structured manner, our consultants design processes and train the clients to manage them in a way that minimizes business disruptions, achieves peak accuracy for system detection and that utilizes the full capacity of their DLP program.

Encryption

Financial institutions are constantly balancing increasingly competitive business drivers with the complex requirements of compliance as well as overall IT security. Now, with sweeping new regulations including the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform Act, measures to protect data privacy, safeguards against data breach and efficiency of processes that govern regulatory compliance activities will need to deliver to higher and more rigorous standards. Definitive Strategic Consulting provide financial institutions with a comprehensive compliance and security solution to address these ever evolving challenges.

Definitive Strategic Consulting helps financial institutions comply with federal compliance acts such as Gramm Leach Bliley as well as industry regulations such as PCI DSS by identifying emails containing nonpublic personal information or primary account numbers and blocking or encrypting the messages before they leave the organization.

Solutions provided by Definitive Strategic Consulting makes it easy to meet even the most stringent regulatory compliance demands by archiving email messages according to SEC-compliant policies. Supervisory review capabilities ensure that broker-dealer communications are monitored and managed to assist in meeting requirements of FINRA Rules 8210 and 11-39, SEC Rule 17a-4, and NASD Rule 3010.

With modern day low-volume phishing attacks targeted at corporate email data, rather simply end user credentials, financial institutions must ensure that their email security solutions are protecting them against these latest threats. Definitive Strategic Consulting provides the industry’s best email threat protection against modern-day, malicious threats, with a combination of accurate threat detection, granular management based on the threat classification, and tools for response should the need arise to react to a direct attack.

Critics of the Heartland Payment Systems data breach have called out for tougher encryption standards for financial institutions and their third-party service providers. Applications for encryption are all around us from encrypting email traffic to board communications, remote access and mobile & Internet banking.

As a pioneer in data protection, Definitive Strategic Consulting provides various highly secure AES-based encryption and tokenization options to replace sensitive information with anonymous values that respect formatting, and preserve all native features and functionality of compatible cloud solutions, such as searching, sorting, and reporting. Customers retain full control of data and encryption keys within their enterprise network. Additional key characteristics of Definitive Strategic Consulting’s solutions include:

  • Support for key rotation
  • Centralized logging and auditing of user activities in the cloud
  • Rapid configuration and deployment
  • Stateless and high-performance architecture
  • Subscription based pricing that eliminates up-front capital expenditure

The financial sector is a data-driven industry where transactions and customer data flow through many points of an organization. The financial services are among the most regulated in the information security sector and this highlights the need for strong data protection, data classification and a data leak strategy for financial institutions.

Our solutions are designed to make you achieve information security compliance by utilizing a modules-based platform. With our help, you can start small and grow your IT-security infrastructure as the need arises, eliminating the need to “purchase everything at once”. Your clients will be happy too since they do not need to purchase a license themselves in order to access the information you share with them.

While it sounds simple – make sure all high value data such as asset transfers and transaction information are encrypted, end-to-end – sometimes it is not that simple. Legacy applications may not be set up for encryption, there is the complexity of establishing encryption with 3rd parties plus an ever present need for strong authentication and identity controls. Definitive Strategic Consulting provides solutions that are designed specifically to meet the challenges that underlie the simple need to protect data in transit.

Financial institutions have done a good job with end user access governance. However, there is often weak governance over privileged user access and in many cases, a complete lack of governance over machine to machine identity and access. This, in other words is “a gaping hole in the security architecture of the vast majority of enterprises”. We bring in expertise to bridge this gap.

Financial institutions depend on systems administrators, developers, contractors and external partners to keep operations running smoothly and to bring new capabilities online. They also need to ensure proper controls, accountability and audit of privileged user activity. Definitive Strategic Consulting provides this vital security function for the channels employed by privileged users.

Security, compliance and cost management can and should go hand in hand. Let our experts from help you design and implement a solution that will address some of the thorniest security and compliance problems facing your business today.