By Prashanth Samudrala, VP of Products at AutoRABIT, shortlisted for Best SaaS Product for Financial Services at SaaS Awards 2022

The financial services industry has to juggle a lot of considerations—ease of use, availability of services, reliable tools, and more. However, the most important consideration might be how successful a company is at protecting the sensitive information that is inherent to their business.

Data security must be a major focus for financial companies to protect both user trust as well as regulatory compliance

Financial data and personally identifiable information (PII) are pervasive in financial systems. Cybercriminals know this, which is why the financial industry is one of their main targets.

A data breach or leak can have drastic ramifications for financial companies. Fines and penalties can come from falling out of compliance with regulations. Loss of consumer trust can lead to people looking elsewhere for loans, savings accounts, and retirement accounts.

It’s important for these companies to continually update their systems to address evolving needs and threats. Along with this, companies must also update their services to remain competitive in the marketplace.

So how does a financial services company stay ahead of their competition while also remaining secure? DevSecOps tools work together to streamline development efforts while also providing the necessary emphasis on data security considerations.

Here are 7 ways DevSecOps tools help companies in the financial services industry address frequent data security issues:

  1. Virtual Services Increase Exposure
  2. Frequent Target of Cyberattacks
  3. Convoluted Data Supply Chain
  4. Team Member Mistakes
  5. Slow Deployment of Updates
  6. Lack of Transparency
  7. Compliance Standards

1. Virtual Services Increase Exposure

Financial services companies have undergone a digital transformation over the last decade. Digital services are a requirement to stay competitive in today’s market. This includes online banking through websites and apps for money transfers, loans, and other types of account management.

Increased accessibility to a user’s financial information has made many circumstances much easier to navigate. However, this has also increased the potential for a data breach.

Constant connectivity and multiple entry points create an abundance of vulnerabilities that can be exploited by cybercriminals. Bugs and errors can be exploited to gain access to a financial institution’s system.

Addressing This with DevSecOps

Frequent updates and bug fixes are essential to maintaining a secure digital platform. And when it comes to financial services, you can’t leave anything unaddressed.

Automated tools like continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD) enable Salesforce development teams to increase the frequency of releases without sacrificing quality. High quality updates and applications are great for offering a positive user experience, but this also helps support a strong data security strategy.

Frequent audits will alert your team to any potential vulnerabilities that need to be addressed. Scan your system with a static code analysis tool to locate existing technical debt that will need to be resolved before it is exploited by bad actors.

2. Frequent Target of Cyberattacks

Personal and financial information are valuable to cybercriminals. This is why financial institutions need to remain hypervigilant in regard to data security.

In fact, it’s been reported that 23 percent of all cyberattacks are directed at businesses within the financial industry.

The heightened frequency of cyberattacks means those in the financial industry need to make data security a priority. Failing to do so can result in exposure of sensitive information leading to a loss of consumer trust as well as fines and penalties from failing to comply with data security regulations.

Addressing This with DevSecOps

Salesforce DevSecOps means an organization addresses data security considerations throughout every stage of the development pipeline. A series of automated tools will not only increase the productivity of your team members, but they will also help them create more secure products.

The manner in which you host your Salesforce instance can have a huge impact on the amount of control you have over your platform. Salesforce exists in the cloud, which is great for accessibility but creates potential data security vulnerabilities.

Hosting your platform on-premises is the only way to have complete control over who access your system. Combine that with a reliable data backup and recovery solution just in case the worst-case scenario occurs.

3. Convoluted Data Supply Chain

Data and resources are liable to pass through many different phases and departments. Think of a DevOps project moving from planning, to production, to QA, to deployment. Financial institutions can also consider a teller accepting cash from a customer, entering the data into their system, and that data moving to a secured location in the server.

This is what we refer to as a data supply chain. This term is often associated with long haul truckers and physical goods, but a supply chain can also refer to software.

Creating, transferring, and storing data introduces multiple touchpoints, each of which has the potential to expose sensitive information.

Addressing This with DevSecOps

Accountability is a major aspect of properly securing your DevOps supply chain. Version control is an important feature of a complete automated release management system. This offers times stamps and personal signifiers for every change that is made to an application or update, creating total accountability and the option to roll back changes should a problem arise.

Properly securing data is a must for financial companies. Protecting the end points is a crucial part of this. Maintaining a secure data backup will cover any unforeseen circumstances.

4. Team Member Mistakes

Change is inevitable but adapting to these changes can create vulnerabilities for financial institutions. An influx of new features and functionality can lead to mistakes by team members, which is actually one of the leading causes of data loss.

A simple mistaken deletion can negatively impact your Salesforce environment, leading to the exposure of sensitive data, a loss of functionality, or unseen data security vulnerabilities.

Protecting your system requires enablement through powerful tools, but it also requires fluid communication and adherence to best practices by your team members. Failure to do so threatens compliance, security, and the safety of precious financial information.

Addressing This with DevSecOps

DevSecOps is as much a mindset as it is a series of tools. Properly communicating the expectations for how your team members should be interacting with your Salesforce environment will go a long way to protecting sensitive information.

Accessing the platform only from approved devices, avoiding simple passwords, and being aware of phishing attempts are all simple considerations  that will have a great impact on your data security strategy.

A proper DevSecOps platform will also allow you to configure permissions for team members. Individuals should only be able to access information they need to perform their duties. Restricting access to sensitive financial information greatly reduces the possibility for it to become compromised.

5. Slow Deployment of Updates

The technological landscape is always evolving. Customers are expecting more and more from their financial institutions which is why the digital transformation we mentioned earlier is an ongoing concern. Mobile access is non-negotiable. However, the ease of access also creates opportunities for cybercriminals.

A reliable development pipeline is the best way to address security concerns, bugs, and glitches as they emerge. The ability to quickly deploy reliable applications and updates keeps you ahead of the curve, enabling your customers with new services while obstructing the efforts of bad actors.

A slow dev pipeline misses these opportunities and creates a situation where someone can gain access to your system without your permission.

Addressing This with DevSecOps

DevSecOps tools like CI/CD and static code analysis enable developers to quickly produce applications and updates without worrying about the quality of their work. The ample levels of testing ensure that nothing slips through the cracks and impacts the eventual product.

Bugs and errors do a lot more than frustrate your customers—they create opportunities for data breaches.

Automated testing streamlines your development pipeline. It’s an essential aspect of enabling your team members to produce reliable products in a timely fashion without sacrificing quality.

6. Lack of Transparency

You can’t fix a problem if you don’t know it exists. The potential for drastic impacts increases the longer a problem persists.

Take the Equifax breach, for example. Hackers were able to gain access to the Equifax system because of a series of data security failures. And if this wasn’t bad enough, the hackers were able to move through Equifax’s system unchecked for months, potentially exposing the sensitive information of 143 million people.

This massive breach is a great example of why a company needs to maintain an updated view on the success of their data security efforts. Financial companies handle extremely sensitive information. Any lapse in coverage needs to be addressed before it is exploited.

Addressing This with DevSecOps

A static code analysis tool scans the code of your updates and applications for errors. Immediate alerts are issued when an error is found so the developer can quickly fix the issue before it grows into a larger problem down the road. Not only does this reduce the cost of correcting an error, but it also supports data security measures.

This tool can take this a step further and scan a financial company’s Salesforce environment for technical debt—bugs and errors that made it through production and into the live environment. These bugs and errors could potentially create a data security vulnerability. Finding and rectifying technical debt should be a major concern for those in the financial industry.

7. Compliance Standards

We mentioned regulatory compliance a few times in this article because it needs to be a major consideration for companies in the financial industry. These regulations are put in place to protect consumers and promote transparency. A failure to adhere to these regulations can lead to fines, penalties, and a loss of consumer trust.

  • General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR): A law in the European Union that dictates how consumer data needs to be handled by anybody that does business in Europe.
  • Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS): A series of guidelines with the goal of promoting the safety of credit and debit account data.
  • Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX): A law promoting transparency in financial data which was passed to address corporate corruption.
  • California Consumer Protection Act (CCPA): A law the empowers consumers with more control over how their personal data is used by businesses.

Addressing This with DevSecOps

The exact data security regulations that impact a specific financial company will depend on where they are located and where they do business. However, there is something to be learned from every regulation whether you are beholden to its stipulations or not.

Employing data security considerations throughout your Salesforce development pipeline will assist with compliance, straight across the board. DevSecOps tools like static code analysis, CI/CD, data backup & recovery, and more will all play a role in properly handling customer data and properly securing your environment.

Automated processes like the ones outlined above will take important tasks out of your team members’ hands. This will increase productivity but also reduce the number of mistakes that are inevitable and potentially costly when tasks are performed manually.

DevSecOps is as much a mindset as a toolset. Financial institutions that adopt this way of thinking will be better positioned to avoid catastrophic data breaches, remain compliant with data security regulations, and increase productivity throughout their development pipeline.