Security and Compliance Checklist for Financial Industry Websites

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Ensuring that your customers and your business is safe should be paramount, especially when you operate in the financial industry, and mistakes could cost people money. You have a moral and legal responsibility to be extremely careful with the handling of your customer’s data and money, meaning that security should be imperative to your business.

The Importance of Security

Security and compliance for financial websites is vital because the incentive for hackers and criminals to try and infiltrate your site is so high. As a financial operator, you have not only an ethical but also a legal responsibility to keep your customers data safe.

In many cases, your customers will be giving you sensitive data like their credit card details or other personal information that they do not want to lose. This transfer of data is happening across the Internet, and therefore you need to have security protocols in place to ensure that this transfer alone is safe in the first place.

But then you have another security issue. You must safely store all of that data while still ensuring that you can quickly access it and return web pages for your customers to see. This problem can be complicated, and that’s why database programmers can get paid so well.

The Importance of Compliance for Financial Websites

As well as the security of your data you must also worry about complying with all of the financial regulations that exist in your country and potentially also in the states of your customers. These rules can vary greatly but they are incredibly important; failing to can lead to massive fines and possibly even a lengthy jail sentence.

When it comes to the financial industry there is little room for error; you must hire compliance for financial websites specialists who can ensure that everything that you are doing is legal.

Use HTTPS

As an essential requirement, your website should be using HTTPS instead of HTTP because it allows for secure data transfer which is vital for personal and financial information. Installing an SSL certificate and setting up your HTTPS isn’t tricky but many programmers can help you with this problem.

HTTPS stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure; essentially it works by storing a password and then querying it to ensure that data is only transferred to the right computer. This method prevents hackers from intercepting your data transmissions and seeing what information your customers have entered.

If your customers are entering any sensitive information of any kind on your website, then you should be using HTTPS instead of HTTP.

Protect against DoS Attacks

DoS or denial of service attacks is when criminals attempt to shut down your servers by overloading them with many requests in a short timeframe. These attacks are often referred to as DDoS, the first ‘D’ standing for distributed, meaning that the criminals have infiltrated multiple computers to conduct the attack.

In many cases, this could mean hundreds of thousands or even millions of computers suddenly trying to connect to your account which can cause your servers to crash. Most of the time this isn’t going to allow hackers to exploit anything but by shutting down your website they are ruining your reputation with your customers and harming your bottom line.

DDoS attacks can be incredibly impactful on a company’s revenue and choose a website hosting service with advanced DDoS protection is vital.

Update All of Your Software Regularly

Perhaps the simplest way to ensure that your website and data transfer is as safe as possible is to regularly update all of the software packages that you are using. Most software developers are continually changing, improving and fixing errors in their products and these updates often include security fixes which can protect you against hacks.

By failing to update your software you are leaving yourself open to hacks that are explicitly targeting sites that have been unable to upgrade to the latest version.

Of course, updates can also cause errors, especially if you are integrating a vast array of different software packages. For this reason, it’s vital that when software updates are released, you look closely at what has been changed and where the errors are likely to occur.

Then, you can update on an offline server so that you can test for any errors before you push the new packages live to your customers. Doing this prevents any broken integration being seen by your audience.

Use Secure Passwords for Employees and Customers

As an employee, it’s likely that you have a high level of administration access which a hacker or a criminal would love to get a hold of. For this reason, it’s critical that you use a secure password that is not easily forgotten.

It the past it was considered ideal to use a password that was a complicated and included a random assortment of numbers, letters, and symbols. This type of password can be extremely difficult to remember, and since the initial recommendation the suggestion has been retracted.

Now, in 2017, instead of creating an extremely complicated password that you are likely to forget, it is best to focus on creating a long password. A suggestion for creating a long password that is easy to remember is to come up with  three or four words that typically do not go together in a sentence, but that you can combine to easily remember.

Run Malware Scans

Finally, you must be regularly running malware scans on all of your servers in the same way you would do on your local PC. Doing this ensures that you can spot any malicious code before it can be exploited or used to extract data from your servers.

Malware is particularly prevalent on un-secure websites but even if you are using HTTPS and secure databases it’s not impossible that malware could end up on your servers.

Don’t Let Security Slow Down Your Financial Company

You can either let security be an element that leads to apprehension in your company – or you can implement these suggestions to create a culture of security, and act boldly to innovate, knowing you’re taking your company and your customer’s security seriously.

If you don’t take your financial companies security seriously – there are those who don’t always have your best interest in mind who may be taking advantage of vulnerabilities seriously. Get your security in check today.

The opinions expressed in this guest contributor article are solely those of the contributor and do not necessarily reflect those of Cloudbric.

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Tim Brown is the owner of Hook Agency – Financial SEO Services, and is a web designer and SEO Specialist out of Minneapolis, Minnesota. Tweet him at @hookagency.

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