Financial Institutions Must Improve Their Online Data Security

The financial services industry must improve their methods for protecting information. This comes after research found 96% of UK financial firms struggle to locate documents, according to research by document management solution firm, M-Files. With cyber threats becoming increasingly common and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) coming into force next year, financial organisations are under even more pressure to protect sensitive customer information.

General Data Protection Regulation

Once the new GDPR comes into force in May 2018, the consequences of poor information handling will only increase. This reinforces the need for an effective information management strategy that supports security procedures. Particularly as only one in five banks feel confident enough to identify a breach, according to a survey by Capgemini Consulting. And that’s not even taking into account a business' ability to defend against such a breach. With the arrival of GDPR and an increased media interest on the topic, any breaches or poor practices will inevitably be thrust into the public domain very quickly.

Risks of Using Online File Sharing

Whether you’re an insurance company, bank, or investment firm, the sending of confidential information to an online file sharing service comes with a significant set of risks and concerns. This includes how sensitive files are shared externally and data theft or compromised accounts inside the organisation. It’s crucial that companies ensure sensitive files, especially those subject to GDPR compliance, do not leak outside the company. Despite increased vulnerability to cyber-crime, a large number of financial service firms say their employees use file-sharing apps, with many of their staff using their own personal devices to access corporate information. Perhaps unsurprisingly, an increasing number of people, in fact, more than five million, regularly use Google docs to manage their files online. 

Storing Data With Google

Google drive and Google docs are convenient ways of sharing information instantly. But some users are concerned about how safe their information is online. After all, some people store all their private data on Google’s servers. In fact, there are valid reasons to be worried about online data security with Google. While it’s easy for you to access your files through just one access point, the same applies for anyone.

Getting into Google drive and Google docs simply requires you to log into a single Google account. This means a hacker can access all of your business files and data. And the risks don’t end there. Google’s learning tools could also provide hackers with access to your personal online behaviours - from what you buy, what you watch on YouTube, to where you go on Google Maps. To make matters worse, Google drive doesn’t even log you out automatically either. This makes it extremely easy for anyone to get into your account by just opening your laptop. This all proves how important it is that you take control of your online data security.

Tackling Online Data Security Effectively

It is critical that businesses look to identify and address any shortcomings within their organisations before any breaches occur. And this should be accompanied by a strategy that will effectively deal with breaches if they do happen. Financial businesses must focus on strengthening company policies and provide training for staff focused on data protection and online security. And while many of us automatically go to Google, there are other options available like the more expensive Microsoft or Dropbox that could prove to eb more secure. But if you use Google and wish to continue, you can make sure your data is safe yourself. Google doesn’t use client-side encryption for your data that you upload, however you can encrypt your files yourself first. But before you begin any online file and data sharing, just remember, nothing is 100% safe online.

The bottom line is that it's your responsibility to ensure yours and your customers' online information remains safe. From drafting a solid strategy, using secure processes to providing appropriate employee training, your online data can remain secure. Just don't cut corners or risk leaving anything to chance. 

About the author: Sally Perkins is a professional freelance writer with many years experience across many different areas. She made the move to freelancing from a stressful corporate job and loves the work-life balance it offers her. When not at work, Sally enjoys reading, hiking, spending time with her family and travelling as much as possible.