Security Operations

Financial services institutions are under increased pressure to ensure 24/7 visibility of potential risks in order to proactively protect their customers and employees, while maintaining global operational resilience. As the COVID-19 Delta variant surges across the US, UK and other countries around the world, it’s even more important for financial services leaders to be prepared for new and emerging risks.

In this episode of FStech podcast, editor Hannah McGrath talks to Helen Sutton, Dataminr SVP of EMEA & APAC Sales, to discuss how real-time information is helping financial services institutions manage emerging risks—across physical and cyber domains—to ensure they stay ahead of events as they occur.

For the full interview, listen to the podcast below or read the transcript that follows, which has been edited for clarity and length. 

How has the risk landscape evolved in the past few years for financial services institutions? Have they managed to adjust to the new risks?

It’s a very interesting world that we’re living in at the minute, and in particular for financial services institutions. There are a lot of emerging risks, things are happening at a much faster pace. And for these sorts of organizations in particular, we’re seeing the pace of moving to online and mobile banking really accelerate.

When it comes to new risks in the pandemic, how has that played out in financial services?

What we’re seeing is a lot of banks and insurers are having to figure out how to remove silos from their crisis management. We are seeing real-time information being absolutely essential to decision making as part of that. And the whole surface area of risk has clearly expanded massively. 

Because of the pandemic, everybody has had to put their resilience strategies through a lot of tests in the last 18 months. Given the speed with which the pandemic moves and evolves, a lot of the challenges that they have faced are: 1) not having enough information or 2) not having the right information at the right time. 

For example, we’ve seen governments mandate branch closures in the early days of lockdowns. Being able to know when a branch is going to be closed or opened up again, and respond very swiftly, is just so important for anybody who is regulated or has customer-facing obligations, such as call centers which need to make sure they serve all of their consumers and particularly vulnerable people.

Bridging the physical and the digital, how are financial services providers using real-time data platforms and alerting systems to get ahead of physical and cybersecurity risks in a coordinated fashion?

We look at all the different sorts of risks and ways that our customers and financial services institutions use real-time information. It can be used to protect against physical or reputational risk—for example, crisis managers who need to manage risks in business intelligence, supply chain, logistics—and, as you’ve just suggested, cyber. 

There are really interesting statistics we’ve seen recently. Security breaches have grown by 67% in the last five years, according to Accenture. In particular, financial institutions are being targeted. Banks lost an average of $18.4 million each to cybercrime in 2018, which was an 11% jump from the year before. And that was obviously pre-pandemic. What we’re seeing now is that some of the more mature organizations are looking at how they can blend how they’re protecting their physical assets with their cyber assets, because they are inevitably becoming much more connected.

A number of the larger banking organizations are starting to foster more communication between their physical and cyber teams. The question is, as you bring those different sources and teams together—even co-located—which is the ultimate converged security, how do you make sure that they know what’s going on?

The real-time alerting, which is what we at Dataminr provide, is the first line of defense for both physical and cyber risks. With our artificial intelligence platform, we are literally processing billions of units of data every day from more than 200,000 sources of public information to detect the earliest indicators of potential risks, so that the people that need to make decisions don’t risk missing the critical information.

You can have a public security incident or a natural disaster. These are areas financial services organizations are now thinking very seriously about, particularly in the context of climate change. What steps are financial service institutions taking to ensure operational resilience?

It’s a really broad and hot topic for our customers. Just to give a couple of examples—you talk about weather—we’ve seen the impact caused by both earthquakes and extreme weather incidents on our customers in various locations in recent weeks. Those situations unfold overtime, so how does an insurer make a decision about how to keep their staff safe, respond to their customers, and to get themselves geared up and ready for claims? Because the risks are going to change so fast in that sort of scenario, you’re really going to need to equip the decision makers on the frontline with the information in real time, as the situation develops.

At Dataminr, we ingest vast quantities of data from a variety of public data sources, including social media, weather information, sensors, blogs, and the deep and dark web. That data really helps organizations like financial institutions to maintain real-time visibility of what’s unfolding and put the appropriate technology architecture in place for broader operational risks. 

As these institutions get themselves organized and get the right talent in place, our information will help them figure out what skills they need in order to support themselves and their customers, and what the overall response and risk framework looks like. Today’s leaders have to drive innovation around their process. So if they’re not making sure that they can respond to risks and have the appropriate technology to adapt, they’re not going to be able to ensure the resilience their organization needs.

In a fast-evolving business and threat landscape, what in your view is the future of enterprise risk for financial services institutions? 

Ninety five percent of the 180,000 or so public data sources that integrate into our platform did not even exist in 2009. And that’s quite extraordinary when you think about how the world has changed in the last 11 years. With that, you can just begin to imagine what’s going to happen in the next decade. From public datasets to different social platforms—things will look extremely different. We want to make sure that organizations, banks, insurers, and all financial institutions get the right information at the right time. Dataminr’s been at the forefront of real-time event detection and we’re excited to help people in this changing world.

How can listeners learn more about Dataminr?

We’d be delighted to hear from listeners. They can visit our website to learn more about what real-time information is and how Dataminr Pulse—our real-time AI platform for detecting the earliest signals of high-impact events and emerging risks for the enterprise—can help them protect their people and assets.

Helen Sutton is Senior Vice President of EMEA & APAC Sales at Dataminr. She has 20 years of experience in enterprise software across multiple industry sectors. Prior to joining Dataminr, she held several sales leadership roles, including those held at Splunk, DocuSign and SAP.

September 28, 2021
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