Cyber security systems need to work overtime to ensure that every transaction is secure – that data isn’t being intercepted, and cards aren’t being cloned – and this is where cyber security provider Fortinet comes into play, even when end-users may not be aware of it.
Speaking at the BusinessTech Digital Banking Conference on Thursday (5 March), Fortinet country manager for South Africa, Paul Williams said that an enormous amount of work goes on behind the scenes, including a simple swipe or tap at point of sale.
Williams said that the operating system behind its cyber security platform is the main driving force behind its operations, and is fed by a wide range of data sources – from data scientists on the ground, that are going out and observing websites and transactions to see the way these systems work – to state-of-the-art artificial intelligence systems.
The problem, Willams said, is that the pace of digital innovation is also creating increased risks – every time there is a new digital disruption, a host of new cyber security threats come into play along with it.
An example would be the cloud. In and of itself the cloud isn’t secure – but requires an added layer of security around it to ensure data going in and out is protected. This is especially true for banking.
As technology develops, the ‘edge’ – the perimeter of vulnerability – widens. Users and devices introduce more vulnerabilities; networks have their own vulnerabilities – and even the computing side of transactions carry their own vulnerabilities.
According to Williams, malware and ransomware attacks are the biggest growing threats in cyber security at the moment, with worldwide cases of protected records being stolen topping 6 billion in recent years, with over 1 billion ransomware attacks.
Adding complexity to cyber security challenges for security platforms is that they operate in a zero trust environment – where customers don’t trust anyone, and so many of these protective layers have to operate out of sight.
This also feeds into the accessibility challenge – where end-users expect smooth operations with little interruption when transacting.
For example – in banking branches, security barriers have been placed between customers and tellers (security gates, security screens, security bars), and this impacts foot traffic, as digital channels provide a much easier way to do banking.
But how long will it be before digital security layers start impeding the same access to digital platforms?
According to Williams, there is no real way to avoid this, as the aforementioned ‘edge’ keeps growing – but fortunately the pace of technology will work in the favour of users in this regard, especially as AI and devices get smarter.
‘This is why it’s important for us at Fortinet, with our AI systems,” he said.
He said that banking customers, whether online or via mobile apps, are already opening up vulnerabilities just by using these platforms without even knowing it – signing digital certificates and giving permissions every time they open the app, or swipe or tap.
But with security platforms like Fortinet providing the layers of protection from end to end, these processes are secured.