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Modernizing Financial Services with Automated, Proactive Threat Management  

Written By Joanna Swartwood
Jan 4, 2024

There’s a rising and intensifying pressure on financial services institutions that aligns with the demand for modernization, down to the core.  

It comes from laws like those of the Service Organization Control Type 2 (SOC 2) and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDRP), which enforce the need to build and hold down cybersecurity policies. As such, it’s critical for financial services providers to get things right regarding technology infrastructure that supports core banking applications and properly handling extremely personal and financial information.  

Defining and ensuring compliance is likely the most important best practice right now. It’s a habit wherein support teams know, with confidence, that the latest patches have been applied and that they have total visibility into their IT infrastructures.  

Threat management becomes more difficult among an increasing number of versions of applications, databases, operating systems, and servers that all need support. It also creates an ideal opportunity for automation – to schedule automations in advance that would patch mission-critical systems safely and consistently to ensure compliance, as well as either verify or audit IT systems regularly.  

Threats to Financial Ecosystems 

Forty-five percent of organizations globally will have experienced attacks on their software supply chains by 2025, an amount three times greater than in 2021, Gartner predicted.  

It matches the ever-evolving history of threats to financial ecosystems wherein a decrease is hard to find. Advancements in technology have led to a very quick evolution of the industry, from cash transactions to digital wallets, embedded finance, and open banking, Deputy Director Cameron Bicker of the Financial Services Sector Coordinating Council (FSSCC) wrote in CSO Online. But the advancements have also made sophisticated tools more easily accessible for threat actors.  

Financial services firms already have a lot on their plates, as they must ensure operational resilience when natural disasters, geopolitical changes, and loss of public confidence can happen anytime.   

Dicker said financial regulators worldwide are paying more and more attention to the need to build operational resilience to maintain the stability of the financial sector, which is apparent from the EU’s Digital Operational Resilience Act (DORA), the framework for operational resilience established by the Bank of England (BoE), Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA), and Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) of the UK, and the updated business continuity guidelines of the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS). 

Supporting, if not guaranteeing operational resilience — the ability to counter, continue operations, recover, and learn — when unexpected events happen comes down to ditching a reactive approach and getting a proactive one. 

Automated Patch Management: The Proactive Approach 

A significant degree of risk comes with being reactive in your IT best practices. It’s never good to wait until there’s a problem to fix, and in regards to patch management, a delay too often fails to protect important systems and applications and adequately reduce the overall likelihood of an attack. 

Reactive patch management that involves manual work can lead to organizational damage, including downtime, a hit to your brand and reputation, a leak of sensitive data, lost revenue, and more.  

A proactive approach with automation,; however, will get your IT team in front of any issues that may arise and therefore, they’re less likely to impact finance and the business as a whole.  

Patch volumes can simply be too large for IT teams to handle without automation, and it’s important to note that while everything seems to come at once, the problems only stack up as IT must test each patch, determine the best sequence of deployment, and time the patch delivery, to keep from overwhelming the network.  

But when you automate the entire patch management process, automation takes care of prioritization, testing, patch rollout and the verification of a successful patch. Plus, your IT team that was drowning in patch management work before automation is now free to focus on strategic, value-adding processes. This automation is likely low-hanging fruit – chances are, you’re already managing patches and just a few small tweaks can get you ahead of the game.  

Automated System Patching: An Example Workflow 

  • The automated orchestration of system patching can start a number of ways, including the creation of a change request ticket or a predetermined, scheduled day and time.  
  • The workflow automatically scans servers and devices for missing updates, like patches that can be applied. It can connect directly to a host and: 
    • query the server OS for any needed updates.
    • get the update/patch recommendations from third-party sources, like Red Hat Security.
  • After each step, the workflow ensures IT tickets are updated as needed. 
  • It’s possible to include logic in the workflow to optionally back up any machine being updated and skip machines that are in-use or mission-critical, if they have no specific change window. 
  • Once all the precautions are taken, the workflow installs patches, or orchestrates the process by calling on any patch management solution to deploy updates.  
  • If there are CMDBs, the workflow finally updates the CI with the right versioning and closes the IT ticket, marking the process successful.  

Benefits of Automatic Patch Management to Enable, Empower your Team  

Automation always lets IT teams breathe a little easier. Automated patch management comes with seemingly infinite benefits, with some top advantages including minimized downtime, eliminated chance for human error, and ramped up productivity.   

The removal of manual tasks means you can be free from human error and the risks associated with it. Common, detrimental manual software patch mistakes include skipping patch systems, missing a failed update notification from a patched system, and deploying an incorrect version of the update. Automation avoids these glitches, and allows you to schedule updates according to the systems you choose to update, the patches that you want to update, and the time and day you want the update to take place. It gives IT teams control. 

To say patch management is a tedious process is an understatement. Automation removes the need to manually analyze, prepare, test, and deploy updates, which gives time and effort back to IT teams. With this automation-enabled capacity, they can take on high-value, challenging work that fuels business acceleration toward goals. Plus, the strategic work will enhance their employee experience, leading to greater job satisfaction and higher engagement.  

To learn more about modernizing your financial services organization, get your copy of “Building an Automation Strategy: A Guide for Financial Services Organizations
or connect with an automation expert today.

About the author, Joanna Swartwood:

About the author, Joanna Swartwood:

Sr. Director of Demand Generation

Joanna Swartwood is Sr. Director of Demand Generation at Resolve Systems. With 20+ years’ experience in developing and running high-performing marketing campaigns, Joanna is passionate about curating demand gen strategies that deliver pipeline and revenue growth. Demand gen in the B2B SaaS tech space is Joanna’s career calling.