Financial services
cyber security and
edge computing

Author: Mark Stone

Digital transformation has moved beyond company headquarters and into branch offices and remote sites. This has resulted in businesses that are faster, stronger and more connected than ever before. However, many challenges have emerged due to the increased demand on the network. Luckily, software defined wide area networks (SD WANs) and edge computing have increased the ability of distributed enterprises to operate more efficiently.

Still, financial services cyber security tops the list of reasons why organizations hesitate to embrace the new technology. To ensure scalable growth, executives need to be confident that they can manage the network capabilities of multiple branches while maintaining consistency, individual branch requirements and data security.

Challenges and solutions for financial services cyber security

Gone are the days of your employees sitting in the same office all day. Employees are increasingly mobile and require access to the internet, prompting a surge in SaaS applications. While apps improve productivity with everything available on one device, it adds complexity to the network.

It's not surprising that the presence of Internet of Things (IoT) devices in organizations is increasing rapidly. From voice-controlled speakers to security cameras, each device needs the internet and strains bandwidth. Not only does this put pressure on the network, but it also expands your threat attack surface.

Network security and complex operations

A person's financial data is the biggest prize for cyber criminals, making financial institutions a large target. No organization wants to endure a data breach, but it can be devastating for financial organizations. Built on trust, their continuity depends on protecting highly sensitive data.

As a result, resource-strapped IT departments will often bend to the pressure by adding more layers of security tools or applications which increases complexity. These applications compete for server space and conflict with each other, resulting in a counterproductive effect.

Financial institutions can help improve the security of their customers' personal information by streamlining operations, reducing complexity and increasing financial data security.

Individual requirements of each branch

The most prominent security challenges that businesses and financial institutions with remote locations all share are:

  • Limited resources (in-house skills, headcount and budget)
  • Expanding portfolio of applications
  • Increasing bandwidth/QoS requirements
  • Multiple clouds, locations and third parties

The needs of individual branches are not always the same. Adaptability to changes within the different branches is vital in today's business environment. If growth occurs in one market or the demand increases, the financial institution needs to scale without interruption.

In addition to the internal user experience, a customer's in-branch experience must be considered. Not only are your employees and your company devices using bandwidth, but your customers also require access to the internet, which adds to network demand.

Managing a large, distributed WAN and the agility to update branch services

Today's networks require enough bandwidth and agility to address changes, application conflict and the increasing demand for server space. Many financial services organizations and other businesses operating with multiple, geographically dispersed locations have transitioned to SD WANs.

Software defined networking (SDN) architectures, like Verizon's Software Defined Secure Branch, simplify the management of the WAN and help reduce security challenges at individual branches. An SDN allows organizations to extend their WAN across the business units while helping to control costs, increase efficiency and maintain availability.

Some key benefits are:

  • Application-aware routing
  • Centralized control and ease of deployment
  • Encryption and secure, segmented WAN architecture

The development of SD WANs has allowed distributed enterprises to connect branch offices to their own data centers and their cloud-based applications. An SD WAN automates and streamlines network control, enabling branches to operate cohesively without IT intervention.

Edge computing for financial organizations

Your customers expect you to always be available, and any disruption will hurt your reputation. Giving your customers the best possible experience — whether in person or remotely — is essential.

Perhaps more than other industries, financial institutions can benefit from

digitizing their operations. Banks and other financial organizations are continually fighting for market share. Those perceived to be ahead of the curve with technology often achieve a competitive advantage. This is where edge computing shines as the processing and actioning of data occurs at the collection source, as opposed to being in the data center or the public cloud. It's not the disappearance of the cloud, it's the cloud coming to you. Proximity to the source means quicker data processing and reduced bandwidth consumption.

A better, faster, more personalized customer experience

Edge computing will pave the way for near real-time customer interactions, offline experiences and personalized interactivity. For financial institutions, digital access and immediate customer service is no longer a competitive advantage; it's expected.

With edge computing, services like AI chatbots can offer real-time personalized solutions. They're faster, easier and leave a data trail. These automated services meet customers' 24/7 demands and augment the human role in simple issues.

Leveraging software defined networking

The performance, resiliency, latency and agility of your IT infrastructure are crucial. By harnessing SDNs, financial institutions and businesses operating with multiple branches or remote locations can offer an unparalleled customer experience without IT intervention. Such technology can help you streamline operations, reduce complexity and increase security. Manage and secure all your branches with software defined security from virtually anywhere, on any device.

Find out how to enable security, continuity and innovation for every branch location with a software defined secure branch.

The author of this content is a paid contributor for Verizon.