IT security threats in wake of financial crisis

EMA has released a new advisory note in which their research director, Scott Crawford, highlights the impact of the current financial industry meltdown, and its implications for the management of security and risk in IT. Crawford focused on the increased IT security threats and risk management issues that come into play when the financial industry is unstable. Some examples of the economy’s impact on IT security, risk management and compliance are outlined below.

Opportunistic attackers will take advantage of many aspects of the crisis. Examples range from phishing attacks that target desperate individuals seeking debt relief, to more retaliatory attacks launched in frustration and resentment against financial businesses themselves. Some, however, may use the appearance of a retaliatory attack simply to hide what is actually espionage, infiltration, or attempted data theft.

Widespread weakness among targets will increase opportunistic risk. Just as significant is the risk posed by the new weakness of financial institutions – and possibly some governments stretched to cover losses in the private sector – both of which are among the most common targets of attack.

Increased M&A activity will complicate security and risk management. As former financial services competitors take over one another in a wave of mergers and acquisitions, IT as well as security teams on both sides of a deal will find it a challenge to safely integrate a formerly foreign environment. M&A activity may further open the door to opportunistic phishers who recognize that customers may not know who owns their bank from one day to the next.

Businesses should look to the security and risk management values of every management tool and technique in the enterprise. The need for visibility throughout the network highlights the value and importance of tools not only in security, but in network, systems and application management as well. IT management tools that can enhance security while reducing the cost or complexity of security management – as well as security solutions that improve the management of IT itself – merit closer scrutiny for these values.

The crisis will increase the value of “security-as-a-service.” A now-dire need to move expenditures away from capex and more toward the opex side of the balance sheet presents a new opportunity for security offered as a service. Crawford notes that service-oriented approaches offer ways to keep up with the threat while getting a better-defined handle on the investment.

Get ready for “W3D” compliance. Just as SOX emerged from the previous major downturn, Crawford advises businesses to prepare for the inevitable wave of compliance with “W3D:” “What Washington (or the World) Will Do.”

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