The financial service industry collects vast amounts of confidential personal data, making it an attractive and lucrative target for cybercriminals and malicious insiders. Cybercrime is getting worse for financial services providers. Accenture estimates that cybercrime will cost financial services providers $5.2 trillion over the next five years.

Cybercriminals are targeting financial services employees through ransomware and phishing attacks designed to breach organizations. Ransomware attacks against financial services firms increased 21 percent last year. Furthermore, malicious insider attacks jumped 15 percent last year. An insider attack costs an average of $243,000 per event, and can take more than 55 days on average to resolve.

How IGA Benefits the Financial Industry

Identity governance and administration (IGA) tools provide the financial service industry with the ability to securely manage accounts, roles, and access rights for individual users. Financial services firms can more quickly detect and catch malicious insiders before they do significant damage.

Financial firms can assign risk policies using IGA platforms based on user roles. They can also conduct user access reviews, so they can understand the level of access an employee has and whether the person genuinely requires that level of access. With increased visibility into user access, firms can create workflows based on what resources the users need to do their jobs.

Compliance in the Financial Industry

The financial services industry must comply with several federal regulations and standards regarding privacy and data security. Some of these include the following: 

To ensure compliance, financial services firms need to implement segregation of duties, a building block of risk management and internal controls. Segregation of duties involves dividing tasks into parts so that more than one person is required to complete those tasks.

The principle of least privilege access—allowing employees access to only the resources they need to do their job—is key to the segregation of duties. IGA can help with segregation of duties by enforcing least privilege access for employees. An IGA solution can enable financial services firms to assign risk policies based on context—for example, employee role, location, device, and other factors. 

IGA also provides the ability to conduct access reviews, which enable a firm to manage group membership, access to enterprise applications, and role assignments. Financial institutions should conduct regular access reviews for all IT systems, including the network operating system, core processing systems, new account and lending platforms, document imaging systems, internet banking systems, and wire transfer systems. These access reviews can help financial institutions identify accounts that have been assigned excessive privileges, accounts with access that do not reflect role changes, and dormant accounts.

An IGA solution can enable continuous monitoring of user access to make sure only the right people have access to the right resources on an ongoing basis. Access can be limited when excessive access rights by an employee are detected.

Zero Trust, IGA, and the Financial Industry

The perimeter-based security approach is no longer working, and it costs financial services firms a substantial amount of time and money in terms of breaches. That is where zero trust comes into play. Zero trust is a security model based on the principle of maintaining strict access controls and not trusting anyone by default, even those already inside the perimeter.

Zero trust requires verification of identity for every person and device seeking access to resources on a network, regardless of whether they are located within or outside of the perimeter. No single technology is associated with zero-trust architecture; it is a holistic approach to enterprise security that includes different principles and technologies.

IGA bolsters the zero-trust security model by managing access based on profiles of users, devices, and services. It provides visibility into user identity and privileges, and it controls access to apps and data, thereby minimizing damage from attacks.

Data security is a crucial concern for financial services firms. Federal and state data privacy and security laws require that financial organizations protect sensitive information from compromise, unauthorized access, interception, or corruption.

The financial industry suffered 448 data breaches last year, second only to healthcare, based on Verizon’s 2020 Data Breach Investigations Report. External threat actors made up 70 percent of cyberattacks, followed by internal actors at 30 percent. Zero trust can help financial services firms cope with this onslaught of data breaches. A zero-trust approach can assist organizations in addressing the challenges of securing sensitive data without disrupting operations.

Zero trust backed up with IGA can also improve the security of remote work in the financial services industry. A zero-trust security model can help financial organizations and their remote workers stay secure, no matter where they are working from or what devices they are using. Embarking on a zero-trust journey with IGA saves companies time and frustration, placing a broader focus on mitigating risks of employees working from home.

The financial service industry faces strict compliance requirements and regular auditing. Using an automated IGA solution, these firms can more easily meet compliance and audit deadlines.

A Partner for Your Zero-Trust IGA Model

Identity Solutions’ approach focuses on an IGA-enabled zero-trust model. We can advise financial services firms on the best solution to improve security and streamline workflows. Identity Solutions can help financial services with compliance with BSA, GLBA, PCI-DSS, and other regulations and standards. With our assistance, financial service firms can evaluate what employees, vendors, and other actors are doing on their systems. 

Identity Solutions assists firms in the execution and management of workflows, access policies, and security programs, and we help implement a separation of duties policy. We have the expertise to enable financial services firms to ensure that the right people get the proper access to systems securely.

For financial services firms facing the rapid shift to remote work and a strict regulatory environment, a combination of zero-trust security and a sturdy identity governance administration solution is the best approach for security and performance. For additional insights into how to implement a solid IGA strategy, subscribe to our blog.


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