In the COVID-19 era, incorporating zero-trust into cybersecurity strategies is more important than ever for wealth management firms, with so many financial advisors and firm employees using a broader range of tools and working from more varied, remote locations.
In this new era, the vulnerabilities for cybercriminals to exploit has grown exponentially, with two key areas that should be of particular concern to wealth management firms:
First, just like any company, they must maintain the integrity of their own corporate networks, adapting to the new security environment in a holistic way that keeps data secure without compromising system performance.
Second, a huge cross-section of the users that access a firm’s data are not within the network perimeters, nor do firms own those users’ devices and networks. In normal times, this is a decentralized, varied landscape to protect. In today’s environment, with more numerous and diverse threats to counteract, the need for robust defenses has increased in urgency.
Firms must establish dual strategies to protect corporate networks while safeguarding a broader, more diffuse, but equally important constituency: Their financial advisors.
Home Office and Corporate Networks
Prior to the pandemic, firm employees and executives predominantly worked in offices, a relatively straightforward setting for cybersecurity experts to protect. Now, these workers are using the same applications as before, but from multiple residential locations.
To maintain a zero-trust approach under these circumstances, while also maintaining system stability and performance, firms should rethink their network architecture and the deployment of their cyber defenses to more closely align with how workers are accessing data.
For example, one might think that a way to keep data safe is to use virtual private networking. By requiring all remote users to use VPN when performing any work-related tasks, firms are routing all data traffic back to its own servers.
This keeps data securely within the firm’s own network. But directing all that data back to the firm’s central network risks overwhelming and compromising overall system performance. The corporate network now has to accommodate all ordinary-course work activities, plus the needs of bandwidth-consuming video platforms such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams.