The world of fintech is moving at lightning speed, thanks to exciting innovations and technological advancements. But this progress comes with a significant downside: the rising threat of data breaches. As fintech companies use data to provide better customer experiences, the need to protect that data becomes absolutely crucial (and increasingly complicated!).

In this article, we'll delve into the challenges fintech faces in keeping data secure and what steps companies can take to safeguard customer information.

What are the risks of data loss in fintech, and how can you mitigate them?

As fintech SaaS platforms gather vast amounts of data to enhance user experiences, customize their apps, and offer personalized services for customers, the risk of data breaches is on the rise. That’s because more tailored services require more data, and more data means more to lose, which also raises more interest in cybercriminals.

This section explores some of the main risks associated with data loss in fintech and provides insights into effective strategies for mitigating these risks. Of course, as a base, you’ll need to have a comprehensive information security management system in place (refer to international standard ISO 27001 for guidance). Then, consider these risks:


  1. Data breaches

Fintech companies are swimming in a sea of sensitive customer data that they collect and process, making them like magnets for hackers and other cybercriminals. A potential data breach in a fintech company is a disaster waiting to happen. Think financial loss, reputation going down the drain, and legal headaches.

That's why it's absolutely vital for fintech companies to put up strong security shields.

Mitigation:

  • Encrypt data and use secure storage practices for sensitive data.
  • Regularly update and patch security systems to prevent vulnerabilities.
  • Implement multi-factor authentication to strengthen login procedures.
  • Have a robust DLP in place (we tend to be biased towards Safetica ONE or Safetica NXT).

 

  1. Personalized data:

In today's fintech world, personalized data has become a big deal (and let's be honest, it's kind of necessary because competition, are we right?). Companies are all about giving users top-notch experiences by customizing their services. But here's the catch: going overboard with personalized data can be risky business for data privacy. Storing too much info and relying heavily on fancy AI algorithms can open the door to hackers. Finding that sweet spot between personalization and data privacy is the key to keeping user trust intact and safeguarding sensitive info. It's all about getting the best of both worlds.

Mitigation:

  • Include data retention practices in your company’s data security policy to limit the storage of personal data beyond necessary periods.
  • Conduct regular data privacy impact assessments to identify and address potential risks.
  • Offer clear opt-out options for users who prefer not to share specific data for personalization.



  1. Specific use challenges:

Fintech companies sometimes find themselves in a tight spot when they want to use personalized data for purposes beyond the original plan. But here's the deal: holding onto data for too long or using it for alternate objectives can not only seriously mess with privacy rules, but it can also make customers feel uneasy. They need to know they can trust you to only use their data for what it was intended for.

To tackle these hurdles, businesses should take the initiative by being open and honest with users. Giving clear and transparent notices about how customers’ data will be used and getting explicit consent for any secondary purposes can gain and maintain trust.

Mitigation:

  • Develop a comprehensive data usage policy that outlines permissible purposes for personalized data.
  • Implement data access controls to restrict data use to authorized personnel and purposes.
  • Allow users to easily manage their data preferences, including opting out of certain data uses.


  1. Data sharing:

Data sharing is a common practice in the fast-paced business world, especially in the fintech industry, to achieve greater efficiency and offer personalized customer experiences. But this practice comes with inherent risks, as sharing data with third-party entities may expose sensitive information to potential breaches.

Fintech companies acting as data processors must prioritize data security and ensure that adequate security measures and contractual arrangements are in place to protect customer data from unauthorized access and misuse.

Mitigation:

  • Conduct thorough due diligence on third-party entities' security practices before sharing data with them.
  • Establish clear data-sharing agreements with provisions specifically for data protection.
  • Regularly monitor and audit third-party data handling practices to ensure compliance with security standards.


  1. Cloud security risks:

Fintech companies are embracing cloud-native technologies like never before, unlocking new possibilities for innovation and growth. You can’t stop progress, but with it also come a fair share of cloud-based threats that you need to watch out for.

Entrusting sensitive financial data to the cloud can make fintech companies susceptible to data breaches due to insufficient security measures implemented by the cloud provider, inadequate access controls, and shared resources. Additionally, the risk of insider threats looms as internal employees or contractors with access to the cloud may accidentally mishandle data or engage in malicious activities.

Mitigation:

  • Encrypt, encrypt, encrypt! Encrypting data before storing it in the cloud adds an extra layer of protection.
  • Require multi-factor authentication to access your cloud systems.
  • Regular security audits are like a health check-up for your cloud systems. They help spot vulnerabilities and fix them before they become problems.
  • APIs are like gateways to the cloud. Keep them locked and secure to prevent any sneaky intruders from slipping through.

Note that some of the mitigation practices mentioned above may be not only a good idea, but some of them are also mandatory under existing data security laws in some countries. We’ll touch upon some regulations below. You can see the regulatory compliance section of Safetica’s blog for detailed descriptions and compliance measures, or start with this article on the most important data regulations around the globe.

Risks of human error and the importance of employee training

While advanced technologies and fool-proof data security protocols play a crucial role in data protection, there’s one lurking danger that often goes unnoticed—the risk of human error. Despite having robust IT systems and DLP software, fintech companies will remain vulnerable if their employees aren't well-informed to handle potential cyber threats. One oversight or mistake on the employee’s end can cause a massive cybersecurity headache for any fintech company.

So, to tackle this challenge head-on, fintech companies need to make sure employees are aware of data security with some proper training (and lots of friendly reminders).

First of all, employees need to be trained to recognize if something seems off. Employee training sessions should cover topics such as phishing awareness, secure data handling practices, password management, and incident reporting procedures, all of which are highly relevant in the fintech context.

Simplified and well-communicated security policies ensure that fintech employees understand their responsibilities and the potential consequences of non-compliance. Fostering a culture of continuous learning and improvement across the organization can empower employees to recognize and respond to potential threats promptly.

Remember, cybersecurity is not a one-time event, and continuous learning is crucial to keep fintech employees updated on emerging threats and best practices – cybercriminals are learning new tricks every day, so your employees need to be kept up to speed.  

Aligning fintech’s business goals with data security regulations

Staying on the right side of the law is no small task. Fintech companies often find themselves navigating through a labyrinth of regulations specific to the financial industry. They've got to keep their eyes on acronyms like DORA, GLBA, or the PCI DSS, ensuring they meet stringent data security standards.

But that's not all – fintech also has to play nice with broader regulations like the EU's GDPR, South Africa's POPIA, or the recently introduced state regulations in the US, such as the Colorado Privacy Act or Connecticut Data Privacy Act.

It's a lot to keep up with, but aligning fintech’s business goals with evolving security requirements is not just a legal obligation but also a vital aspect of gaining and maintaining the trust of customers. See the regulatory compliance section of Safetica’s blog for details on individual regulations and what they could mean for your business.

Ensuring compliance with these regulations can be challenging, especially as new ones pop up and existing ones get updated. But hey, that's just how it goes in the ever-changing world of data security! Companies must be proactive and stay informed about the latest requirements, so they don’t fall behind.

Specific regulatory requirements vary depending on the jurisdiction in which a business operates. Some recurring mandatory provisions are:

  1. Data encryption: Many data protection laws require organizations to implement encryption measures to protect sensitive information from unauthorized access.
  2. Access controls: Regulations often mandate the use of access controls to limit access to sensitive data only to authorized personnel. Also read: Zero Trust Approach
  3. Data breach notification: Laws may require organizations to notify affected individuals and regulatory authorities in the event of a data breach and give time limits for how quick these notifications need to be.
  4. Consent management: Some regulations, like the EU's GDPR, require organizations to obtain explicit consent from individuals before collecting and processing their personal data and usually give individual’s extra rights, such as revoking consent and opting out.
  5. Data retention policies: Regulations may set specific guidelines for how long organizations can retain customer data and when and how it must be deleted.


Safeguarding fintech's data with Safetica's DLP software

In fintech, data security is non-negotiable. We can confidently say that protecting sensitive information is not just a legal obligation but a moral imperative. The fintech industry's increasing reliance on data make robust data security measures an absolute necessity for the industry to move forward while maintaining the confidence of users.

Safetica's powerful Data Loss Prevention (DLP) software offers an unbeatable shield against data breaches, human errors, and cloud-based threats. For example:

  • Data classification: Easily identify and classify personal data within your organization, ensuring proper handling and protection.
  • Data monitoring and auditing: Monitor data usage in real-time, track sensitive data transfers, and generate detailed audit logs for compliance reporting and analysis.
  • Access controls: Implement access controls to ensure that only authorized personnel can access sensitive data, reducing the risk of data breaches.
  • Incident response: Safetica's software enables you to respond quickly to potential data breaches, allowing you to investigate incidents, contain the impact, and mitigate risks.

We can help you align your fintech business’ goals with evolving security requirements, ensuring that you remain on the right side of the law and maintain your commitment to protecting customer data.



  Let's talk!

Author
Petra Tatai Chaloupka
Cybersecurity Consultant

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