Community Blog Can Cloud Computing Enhance Data Security for the Financial Industry?

Can Cloud Computing Enhance Data Security for the Financial Industry?

In this blog, guest author Nikhil shares his thoughts on the importance of data security for the financial industry and discusses how cloud computing can help.

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By Nikhil Agarwal, Guest Author

Financial institutions are subject to an ever-increasing amount of regulatory standards and guidelines as guardians of crucial client personally identifiable information (PII). Financial firms are being pushed by regulatory bodies and the need to protect their brand reputation to invest heavily and coordinate their efforts to improve cybersecurity preparation, response, and resiliency throughout the sector. Shift is concentrating on important design concerns such as Defense in Depth and Zero Trust architectures, particularly in cloud-based contexts.

In recent years, cloud computing has emerged as a popular solution for IT pioneers, C-suite executives, and board members, to help meet these stringent requirements. Faced with shifting client expectations, emerging business models, and elective plans of action, banks must start putting systems in place now to help them prepare for the future. Cloud computing is gaining traction in the financial industry, and banking in 2040 will look to be very different from what it is today.

Security Planning Is Often Incomplete – Vulnerabilities Are Everywhere

Data is the lifeblood of the financial industry. Poor security management and cyber-attacks not only cause financial losses but also negatively affect the company's brand and reputation. A growing number of high-risk industries - finance, healthcare and E-commerce - have begun to put data security at the forefront of their business and are starting to take affirmative action.

However, many financial enterprises including large banks can only provide makeshift solutions for managing data security. This is because a majority of business release and promotion cycles are short, sometimes just weeks, limiting teams to fully consider internal security management. In such scenarios, it is unsurprising to hear statements like, "We just want to release the application on time. Nobody has time to think about security."

The Cloud Is Trending Towards Security

Cloud computing is the primary force shaping the market for innovation administrations, according to spending levels and growth estimates. Organizations all around the world are using private, public, and hybrid cloud solutions to create innovative products and services, drive digital transformation, and redefine "impossible" with the correct balance of security, particularly in the financial industry.

The top public cloud providers provide a variety of innovative solutions-as-a-service that banks may use on their platforms to help them create revenue, improve client experiences, minimize costs, provide market-fit products quickly and effectively, and monetize data assets. The cloud also provides a huge opportunity to synchronize the company, to separate functional and data silos, and to manage risks, financial, regulatory, and client support, among other things. Financial institutions can use these easily available (IaaS, PaaS, or SaaS) services over these cloud platforms to apply advanced analytics for integrated insights when large data sets are combined in one place.

Adapting to the Cloud Environment

As more and more financial enterprises gradually transfer their businesses onto the cloud, they should also bring their security strategy more in line with the "cloud environment". This new security strategy is very different from the previous makeshift solutions as cloud protection needs to be more comprehensively deployed.

Taking the basic topology of financial business systems as an example, app-side reinforcement and threat detection are used to limit security risks to within the app itself, while products like Anti-DDoS and Web Application Firewall (WAF) can be deployed at the entry/exit point of the cloud system so that network attacks are blocked before reaching servers or applications.

On the cloud, the financial industry also needs security tools that are capable big data analytics to anticipate and respond to attacks that are happening or are about to happen in real time. These tools are capable of detecting threats by analyzing relevant security elements in the entire network, including user operation logs, database behavior, and security logs across the entire network. This allows the discovery of previously unknown threats and the tracking of hacker activity.

In addition, deploying systems and applications to the cloud requires the financial industry to further strengthen employee permissions management and use key management systems to keep system passwords secure. Enterprises must also further improve employees' security awareness and encourage secure application development.

Conclusion: No One-Size-Fits-All Solution for Financial Institutions

Perhaps the best part about cloud security is that banks don't have to go all-in on cloud if they don't want to; they may mix and match based on their needs. Data can be as safe (or safer) with cloud-based options as it is with on-premises options in every case.

Data security has always been a major concern in the IT industry. It is especially true in the cloud computing environment, given that the data is spread across several geographies. It proves to be especially true in the cloud computing environment, given that the data is stored in several physical locations throughout the world. Various cloud-native data security controls are available for securing data at rest, in transit, or in use, addressing the two key user concerns - data security and privacy protection.

As a recommendation to financial institutions, build the right architecture while engineering (using the Cloud-as-a-code approach), databases, encryption key strategy, and access approvals on the side of consistency regulatory requirements to confidently plan and execute a migration to the cloud and be confident of data security in cloud computing.

Another best practice to keep up with the shifting threat landscape is to investigate data encryptions using customer maintained keys. However, special care should be taken when storing encryption keys, which should be done using FIPS level 2 or 3 certified solutions or HSMs via centralized key management solutions.

About Guest Author – Nikhil Agarwal


Ranked 18th in Cyber Security, 10th in Emerging Technologies & 3rd in Cloud Security Leaders globally amongst the top 25 consulting leaders by Onalytica.

As a noted technology expert, who passionately share knowledge with the community, Nikhil has proven ability to work across cultures and serving clients globally while working in Europe (Germany), Africa, Middle East Asia, Asia Pacific & South East Asian among various client industry.

Nikhil has expertise in both traditional cyber security practices like penetration testing, DevSecOps, cloud security, architecture review, cyber forensics etc. to Next-Gen cyber security practices like Red Teaming, K8s & Container Security, IaC Code Review, Shadow IT, Cyber Threat Intelligence (CTI) , Operational Security (OPSEC), Open Source Intelligence (OSINT), Darknet Monitoring etc.

Disclaimer: The views expressed herein are for reference only and don't necessarily represent the official views of Alibaba Cloud.

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