Companies in the Financial Services sectors are no strangers to digital transformation. We’ve seen the evolution of software development tools and methodologies in attempts to automate processes and pushing for higher levels of efficiency to shorten time-to-market. These initiatives have become a necessary step for organisations in a bid to maintain their competitive edge in the market. While DevOps is the key pillar of transformation for most Financial Services companies today, businesses are realising that digital transformation without security in mind exposes the businesses to more cyber security risks than before.
Security has emerged as the top concern for businesses in 2019, and not for no reason. More businesses have fallen prey to cyber attacks over the past few years, and businesses have recorded an increase in the number of successful attacks. In fact, according to Imperva, the number of data breaches in January 2021 alone is larger than the total number of data breaches in the whole of 2017.
When applications become the battleground for businesses to display their edge against their competitors, what businesses fail to realise is that these very applications serve as new channels for exploitation. In short, applications that are not secured are ticking time bombs waiting for a data breach to happen. Security has evolved from a technical requirement to a business requirement and businesses that fail to prioritise security are at larger risks of financial and reputation loss.
However, it is difficult to integrate security into existing processes. Modern application development processes utilise different microservices and containers for automation and convenience – and the result is an increasingly dynamic application, an exponentiated software supply chain, and a nightmare for integrating security into development cycles.
With improvement in application development techniques, companies in the financial services sector must consider moving towards implementing DevSecOps or risk an increasing disjoint between the security and development teams.
One approach to consider is security by design. Security by design is an increasingly mainstream approach to designing applications and is widely embraced by financial services organisations. Using the security by design approach, security is considered at every layer of the software and is built with a robust architecture design.
From a security perspective, embracing DevSecOps is almost a no brainer for financial services companies. Companies in the financial services sector are 300 times more targeted than similar companies in other sectors due to the vast amount of valuable information that could be obtained from a data breach.
The European Central Bank released a report in 2020 on the main risk factors that the eurozone banking system will be expected to face in the next three years and these risk factors are digitalisation of financial services, obsolescence of banking information systems, together with the increased use of third-party information systems.
Adopting a DevSecOps approach allows the security team to better mitigate the security risks brought about by these factors. When development teams code with security in mind, the number of vulnerabilities in applications are reduced drastically and fixed earlier in the software development lifecycle, allowing for fast remediation. That way, the number of vulnerabilities in the live application are minimised.
Moreover, implementing a DevSecOps culture within the organisation empowers the security team to hold different stakeholders accountable for vulnerabilities, which greatly improves observability and traceability of security issues across the organisation.
While DevSecOps may seem like an internal shift between the development and security teams, the impact of adopting a DevSecOps culture is not limited solely to the technical aspects of the business.
Data breaches are the second highest contributing factor for loss of reputation for organisations, especially those within the financial services industry. This does not come as a surprise, since financial services usually leverage Personally Identifiable Information that can be of much value when fallen in the wrong hands. In fact, the International Data Corporation has found that 80 percent of consumers in developed nations will defect from a business if their information is compromised in a security breach.
By introducing a DevSecOps culture to organisations, they are less likely to experience breaches that put their reputation at stake – and more importantly, limit the extent of impact of the damage done.
With a clearly defined roadmap for the transition to DevSecOps, businesses can respond quickly to rapid changes in the security landscape while ensuring compliance in the delivery pipeline as early as possible.
In the US, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) has issued an executive order for all software companies to maintain a working Software Bill of Materials (SBOM). The SBOM tracks the dependencies of the applications, providing much needed visibility and transparency to the software supply chain. With the SBOM in place, organisations can quickly remediate vulnerabilities when they are detected to prevent data breaches. The SBOM signals a clear stance towards security – measures have to be put in place to prevent data breaches. In the event of a data breach, with the right measures in place, organisations are less likely to be held liable for the data breach.
The transition towards implementing DevSecOps is an increasingly important decision that companies within the financial services sector have to make. Although it might seem daunting, we promise we will be here every step of the way to walk you through it whenever you are ready.
Find out how you can start incorporating security into your software supply chain design by speaking to one of our experts.