Many of the top perceived risks in the banking industry are focused on new developments. According to last year’s Protiviti survey “Executive Perspective on Top Risks for 2014,” financial services industry professionals projected that the biggest risks would be regulatory changes, cyber threats, and protecting the privacy and security of their customers amid greater use of cloud computing, social media and mobile technology.

One of the oldest threats banks face, however, still packs quite a punch for the bottom line. As Ross Smith of Fast Locksmith illustrates in the infographic below, bank robberies may be more closely associated with the days of Bonnie and Clyde and Old West sheriffs, but they have cost the industry billions since 2000. Check out some of the biggest bank robberies of the 21st century:

Bank Robbery Infographic



Forecasting what the IT security landscape will look like in the year ahead has become an annual technology tradition, and following 2014 as the Year of the Data Breach, I think anyone could make a fairly accurate guess as to what the major trend of the New Year will be: more data breaches.

Forty-three percent of organizations reported a data breach in the past year, a figure that Forrester predicts will rise up to 60% in 2015. And it’s not just the frequency of breaches that we will see escalate in the year ahead, but also that malware will be increasingly difficult to dismantle. P2P, darknet and tor communications will become more prevalent, and forums selling malware and stolen data will retreat further into hidden corners of the Internet in an attempt to avoid infiltration.

By now, it is no longer a matter of if your business is going to be breached, but when. The last thing any organization needs as we enter another year of risk, is a blind side. The good news, though, is that there are ways to prevent them if we act immediately.

We know that an increase in cyber-attacks by stealthier hackers and more sophisticated malware is a sensible prediction – more important, now, is thinking about our resolutions, and how to prepare against what may be lurking ahead.

Here are my top New Year Resolutions for better enterprise security in 2015:

Layer Proactive Defenses

In 2014, many businesses were bitten by data breaches despite spending millions on state-of-the-art, next-generation solutions. In 2015, organizations will have to think smarter and build security from the ground up, layering defenses rather than relying on next-gen panaceas.

Furthermore, this kind of multi-layered approach should encompass more proactive measures – reactive “detective” tactics no longer cut it. Malware has always been hard to detect, and yet I see company after company relying too closely on detection technologies like antivirus (which, believe it or not, works only 50% of the time at best).

Lock Down Data

Following widespread data losses in 2014, businesses should resolve to lock down access to corporate systems and data. This starts with implementing greater control over user accounts and administrative privileges. Employees should always be logging onto systems as a standard user, and even then, businesses need to continue to control and monitor access to files and databases with active anomaly detection. Regular reviews of user roles and their access requirements should become a standard practice.

Ask More Questions

Heartbleed, Shellshock and recently, SChannel attacks have all shaken our confidence in common protocols that underpin much of the internet. Organizations need to practice greater scrutiny in evaluating what is offered by their selected vendors to ensure patching is swift and targeted. Far more questions should be asked around vendors’ processes for code auditing and testing.

Look to Two-Factor Authentication

Many of the attacks of 2014 could have been prevented by two-factor authentication, from the iCloud breach to the eBay compromise. Organizations should be looking to implement two-factor authentication as a way to prevent stolen or shared credentials being used against them. While this method is not a comprehensive solution to address all the security threats we’ll likely face, it does introduce a much needed layer of security.

Don’t Let Security Get in the Way

Stringent security practices are absolutely essential, but they can become a double-edged sword. Locking down system access for instance, although it significantly boosts the organization’s overall security posture, can strike a serious blow to end user productivity. Security must always be top of mind for IT organizations, but you’d be surprised at how quickly appetite to risk changes when its implementation reduces employees’ freedom and flexibility. Here is where deploying strategies like least privilege and sandboxing can have a significant impact by creating a productive and positive working experience for users, without compromising security.

In 2015, businesses should resolve to think smarter about their approach to security. It’s easy to become enamored by the latest glitzy perimeter solutions and invest heavily in next-gen antivirus and firewalls. But, making the most of those investments means thinking more strategically about how they can be layered with more proactive measures and additional safety nets to create a truly defense-in-depth framework. Most of all, we must strive to act on the greatest good principle. After all, IT isn’t the only business stakeholder, and finding a security solution that allows for a seamless user experience is what will most effectively drive adoption – and greater security success.


The insurance industry breathed a sigh of relief this week after President Obama signed legislation reauthorizing the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act (TRIA), which had been allowed to expire on Dec. 31, 2014.

The Terrorism Risk Reauthorization Act of 2015, H.R. 26, was passed by the House on Jan. 7 by a vote of 416 to 5 and the Senate, 93 to 4.

“After several years of delivering testimony, lobbying and developing initiatives that allow RIMS members to voice their concerns regarding TRIA’s expiration, our hard work was finally rewarded,” said Rick Roberts, 2015 president of RIMS. “We are thrilled that Congress and President Barack Obama finally realized that this federal backstop is more than just an insurance issue. TRIA offers all organizations that do business in the U.S. financial protections to cope with the very real and unsettling devastation caused by terrorism, as well as the confidence to remain focused on their objectives.”

“A well-functioning private terrorism insurance marketplace has been preserved because Congress and the Administration made TRIA’s reauthorization an immediate priority,” said Leigh Ann Pusey, president and chief executive officer of the American Insurance Association (AIA). “The program, which has overwhelming bipartisan support, will continue to protect our nation’s economy against major acts of terrorism.  AIA thanks Congressional leadership and the Administration for moving so quickly to reauthorize TRIA.”

TRIA was first signed into law in 2002 by President George W. Bush. It was later extended as the Terrorism Risk Insurance Extension Act of 2005 and in 2007 the president signed into law the Terrorism Risk Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2007 (TRIPRA). The law, which is administered by the U.S. Department of the Treasury created a “temporary federal program that provides for a transparent system of shared public and private compensation for certain insured losses resulting from a certified act of terror,” according to the Department of Treasury.

The final version reauthorizes the program for six years with the following changes:

  • An increase from $100 million to $200 million is phased in to the program’s trigger by 2020.
  • Decreases federal share of losses from 85% to 80% by 2020
  • Increases the government’s mandatory recoupment amount from $27.5 billion to $37.5 billion by 2020
  • Increases recoupment percentage amount from 133% to 140%
  • Streamlines the certification process for an act of terror by removing the Secretary of State and Attorney General from the formal process
  • Instructs the Secretary of Treasury to issue a certification timeline to Congress

The National Association of Professional Surplus Lines Offices (NAPSLO) said it continues to gather information on the impact of TRIA’s reauthorization.

NAPSLO issued a side-by-side comparison of the expired TRIA program and H.R. 26:


Not too long ago, organizations fell into one of two camps when it came to personal mobile devices in the workplace – these devices were either connected to their networks or they weren’t.

But times have changed. Mobile devices have become so ubiquitous that every business has to acknowledge that employees will connect their personal devices to the corporate network, whether there’s a bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policy in place or not. So really, those two camps we mentioned earlier have evolved – the devices are a given, and now, it’s just a question of whether or not you choose to regulate them.

This decision has significant implications for network security. If you aren’t regulating the use of these devices, you could be putting the integrity of your entire network at risk. As data protection specialist Vinod Banerjee told CNBC, “You have employees doing more on a mobile device and doing it ad hoc here and there and perhaps therefore not thinking about some of the risks that are apparent.” What’s worse, this has the potential to happen on a wide scale – Gartner predicted that, by 2018, more than half of all mobile users will turn first to their phone or tablet to complete online tasks. The potential for substantial remote access vulnerabilities is high.

So what can risk practitioners within IT departments do to regain control over company-related information stored on employees’ personal devices? Here are three steps to improve network security:

1. Focus on the Increasing Number of Endpoints, Not New Types

Employees are expected to have returned from holiday time off with all sorts of new gadgets they received as gifts, from fitness trackers to smart cameras and other connected devices.

Although these personal connected devices do pose some network security risk if they’re used in the workplace, securing different network-enabled mobile endpoints is really nothing special for an IT security professional. It doesn’t matter if it’s a smartphone, a tablet or a smart toilet that connects to the network – in the end, all of these devices are computers and enterprises will treat them as such.

The real problem for IT departments involves the number of new network-enabled endpoints. With each additional endpoint comes more network traffic and, subsequently, more risk. Together, a high number of endpoints has the potential to create more severe remote access vulnerabilities within corporate networks.

To mitigate the risk that accompanies these endpoints, IT departments will rely on centralized authentication and authorization functions to ensure user access control and network policy adherence. Appropriate filtering of all the traffic, data and information that is sent into the network by users is also very important. Just as drivers create environmental waste every time they get behind the wheel, network users constantly send waste – in this case, private web and data traffic, as well as malicious software – into the network through their personal devices. Enterprises need to prepare their networks for this onslaught.

2. Raise the Base Level of Security

Another way that new endpoints could chip away at a network security infrastructure is if risk practitioners fall into a trap where they focus so much on securing new endpoints, such as phones and tablets, that they lose focus on securing devices like laptops and desktops that have been in use for much longer.

It’s not difficult to see how this could happen – information security professionals know that attackers constantly change their modus operandi as they look for security vulnerabilities, often through new, potentially unprotected devices. So, in response, IT departments pour more resources into protecting these devices. In a worst-case scenario, enterprises could find themselves lacking the resources to both pivot and mitigate new vulnerabilities, while still adequately protecting remote endpoints that have been attached to the corporate network for years.

To offset this concern, IT departments need to maintain a heightened level of security across the entire network. It’s not enough to address devices ad hoc. It’s about raising the floor of network security, to protect all devices – regardless of their shape or operating system.

3. Link IT and HR When Deprovisioning Users

Another area of concern around mobile devices involves ex-employees. Employee termination procedures now need to account for BYOD and remote access, in order to prevent former employees from accessing the corporate network after their last day on the job. This is particularly important because IT staff have minimal visibility over ex-employees who could be abusing their remote access capabilities.

As IT departments know, generally the best approach to network security is to adopt policies that are centrally managed and strictly enforced. In this case, by connecting the human resources database with the user deprovisioning process, a company ensures all access to corporate systems is denied from devices, across-the-board, as soon as the employee is marked “terminated” in the HR database. This eliminates any likelihood of remote access vulnerabilities.

Similarly, there also needs to be a process for removing all company data from an ex-employee’s personal mobile device. By implementing a mobile device management or container solution, which creates a distinct work environment on the device, you’ll have an easy-to-administer method of deleting all traces of corporate data whenever an employee leaves the company. This approach is doubly effective, as it also neatly handles situations when a device is lost or stolen.

New Risks, New Resolutions

As the network security landscape continues to shift, the BYOD and remote access policies and processes of yesterday will no longer be sufficient for IT departments to manage the personal devices of employees. The New Year brings with it new challenges, and risk practitioners need new approaches to keep their networks safe and secure.