Financial services organizations are prioritizing their investments in secure remote solutions as the pandemic continues to reshape our expectations about work. While some banks had begun to offer work from anywhere (WFA) opportunities before the pandemic, it’s now become a priority. With all banks either launching or extending their remote work solutions, their systems need to be built securely to ensure business continuity.
In today’s digital landscape, remote work opens up another vector for cyber attacks that can threaten the functionality of any financial organization. According to Jack Pringle of Adams and Reese LLP, “Cyber threat actors continue to target banks, their customers, and their third parties include phishing threats against bank customers and staff, and an increasing number of attacks focused on the use of “teleworking tools”: VPNs, virtual teleconferencing services and other remote telecommunication technologies.” Recognizing this, banks must be vigilant in deploying remote work solutions.
Deutsche Bank began implementing partial remote work before the pandemic. However, their shift to full telework meant their operating models and other systems needed to be updated to support 60,000 to 70,000 remote employees. In scaling up remote work solutions across the organization, Deutsche Bank invested in new tools and guided employees on how to create an effective workplace while considering the sensitivity of information.
For security purposes, employees were instructed to use ethernet rather than WiFi for a more stable connection. Additionally, as it pertains to client documents, the organization devised a plan to move all documentation into a secure and legally viable digital environment. “This is our new business as usual,” explained Stuart Gurr, group chief information officer for Deutsche Bank’s Asia-Pacific (APAC) region in an article by Business Insider. “The whole digital workplace will change forever.”
For The State Bank Group, a bank chain with 75 employees and eight locations, they too deployed WFA solutions but for them this was the first time on a larger scale. Traditionally, they allowed employees to work remotely periodically but never on a regular basis. However, according to Karen Epper Hoffman in an article for the American Banking Association (ABA), years before the pandemic The State Bank Group developed a business continuity plan which mandated the use of a virtual server and desktop environment with added network infrastructure. This allowed The State Bank Group to deploy remote solutions fast and secure disparate endpoints as well as better understand how to educate employees on heighted security threats in the WFA environment.
To deploy secure remote solutions financial organizations must first have operating models designed with the future in mind. With these in place, security isn’t compromised, and unexpected disasters – like a global pandemic – are more manageable. “Getting secure, remote access right is a challenge for banks,” explained industry leader, Douglas McCuaig of Cognizant. “The key is to balance workable, short-term solutions with an eye toward creating an overall, permanent strategy for digital operations. Banks can then focus on improving their WFA collaboration platform to drive productivity and a better experience for employees, partners and customers; and designing the end-to-end digitization of their business.”
For many banks, the WFA environment was never top of mind prior to the pandemic. According to McCuaig, the pandemic prompted a necessary rewiring of the industry which had, up until now, been slow to digital adoption and remote work. But now thanks to a drastic change in normal operations, remote work in the banking industry is here to stay. This is where secure remote solutions make the difference, allowing for business continuity as well as employee and operational safety.
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