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‘Integrate security into enterprise network architecture’

(Clockwise, from top, left) Meheriar Patel, group CIO, digital solutions, Jeena and Co.; Pawan Chawla, chief information security officer, Future Generali India Life Insurance; Prasanna Lohar, head of technology –digital, innovation architecture, DCB Bank; M.A. Kishen Kumar, group CTO, ASK Investment Managers.Premium
(Clockwise, from top, left) Meheriar Patel, group CIO, digital solutions, Jeena and Co.; Pawan Chawla, chief information security officer, Future Generali India Life Insurance; Prasanna Lohar, head of technology –digital, innovation architecture, DCB Bank; M.A. Kishen Kumar, group CTO, ASK Investment Managers.

In the latest episode of Virtual Workplace 2.0, titled ‘Strengthen digital transformation with converged network and security’, industry leaders from the banking, insurance and logistics sectors came together to discuss how to manage the entire enterprise security journey more holistically and gain insight on how embedding security natively in the cloud can transform the way organizations work and serve customers effectively

The pandemic has changed the way we work. The past year has seen increased remote transactions between customers and organizations, making the network architecture more hybrid. In this new set-up that has emerged, where data, devices and applications have spread out of the bounds of the network perimeter, security has come to play a very vital role.

In the latest episode of Virtual Workplace 2.0, titled ‘Strengthen digital transformation with converged network and security’, industry leaders from the banking, insurance and logistics sectors came together to discuss how to manage the entire enterprise security journey more holistically and gain insight on how embedding security natively in the cloud can transform the way organizations work and serve customers effectively.

Logistics companies have been severely impacted by lockdowns and uncertainties in the transportation sector. But, businesses have made changes to deploy, manage and use network services for reliable operations, maximum staff performance and robust security.

“Logistics is one sector, which is involved 27x7 even through the pandemic to ensure that deliveries reach you on time. Technology is the backbone of this situation, from collaboration platforms to cloud platforms that are available round-the-clock with no given amount of downtime. As a strategy, I feel we have been open to accepting new standards and situations where we can collaborate and work, offer solutions not only to our employees but also our customers," said Meheriar Patel, group chief information officer (CIO), digital solutions, Jeena and Co. Pvt. Ltd.

For the financial services industry, especially the insurance sector, remote access brought with it a boost in network traffic. People were worried about their health and were looking for means to ensure that they are able to pay for any healthcare exigencies. The challenge for BFSI companies was not just securing their business but also growing it organically.

“With the number of covid-19 cases increasing, the demand for insurance increased, and artificial intelligence (AI)/ machine learning (ML) played an important role in servicing the customers. Out chatbot, for instance, has played a very important role in providing relevant information to the customers at any given point in time," said Pawan Chawla, chief information security officer, Future Generali India Life Insurance Co. Ltd.

The BFSI industry deals with sensitive customer data and has been one of the forerunners for security. Chawla stressed the importance of security as a vital aspect of this changed architecture. “Security is not something that you can bring in at a later stage—it has to be there right from Day One. So, whenever you are designing a product or making a change, it needs to pass through a security gate," he added.

The banking sector has also transformed into a digital-first, branchless banking set-up, where demand saw an unprecedented surge during the pandemic. But the industry now needs to ready itself for the next big leap, 5G. The network effect of enterprise security will play a role in the ecosystem where everyone thinks about security natively.

“When 5G becomes a prominent communication network in the next 2-3 years, machines, homes and cars will become tomorrow’s customers, and responsibility will go to the next level. Security then will become invisible so will the challenges in terms of augmented reality or virtual reality. Regulators in collaboration with banks and tech service providers need to come together to create safeguards for technology," said Prasanna Lohar, head of technology – digital, innovation architecture, DCB Bank Ltd.

Others such as ASK Investment Managers Pvt. Ltd, which operate in the wealth management space, spoke about how they have been working towards a seamless integration of their entire digital framework. Traditionally, the adoption of technology has been a challenge for banks but this is changing fast due to the pandemic, resulting in a lot of innovation in the market.

“The business that we are is into high net-worth (HNI) and ultra HNI customers who use technology. How do we make it seamless for them to access this technology is something that we needed to look into. We removed all the barriers and developed them across platforms. Having a very secure environment where security was taken care of at the network level allowed us to open all the channels," said M.A. Kishen Kumar, group chief technology officer (CTO), ASK Investment Managers Pvt. Ltd.

With the changing network demographics, the challenges around security are also changing, and experts feel it is time to do away with incremental thinking. With a mobile workforce, multi-cloud networks, and hyper-connected networks, this sudden shift to digital has expanded the scope of security, putting businesses, people and data at a greater risk than ever before.

“Unless you define your architecture well, security will not happen. You need to go to the direct memory access (DMA) level to take care of your vulnerabilities. But the security can’t be tackled in a fragmented way. The biggest challenge today is to bring the security together," said Kumar.

“Not long back, a lot of organizations had their data centres encompassed in the network architecture offices, and there was a network perimeter which used to be within the corporate network, easily secured by a simple firewall and VPN. But what has happened through the digital transformation is that the entire architecture has changed," said Gaurav Goel, head-India prime (digital sales), Tata Communications.

The focal point has shifted from data centre security to the user’s identity and the device from where the application is being accessed. “The network and security need to be integrated. You need to authenticate the user and check the identity of the device before authorizing them to use the application—a lot of technologies are evolving to enable these two things. User authentication is through a zero-trust model, and authorization, which was earlier an implicit allow, is now a default deny," Goel added.

Customers seeking a life insurance cover or filing for claims interact with insurance companies across multiple devices and platforms. As a result, companies need to identify vulnerabilities in the network and perform static and dynamic security assessments to keep consumer data safe from malice.

“A customer can reach out to you via various touchpoints, and security has to be a part of every touchpoint. Vulnerability assessment has to be rigorously implemented throughout the organization of each and every application whenever a change happens. You also need to secure your vendors," said Chawla.

Added Lohar: “Each and every component is validated for security. Earlier, we used to go to bank branches, and today, the channels are coming to you on your mobile phone or app. There are no standards against IoTs to safeguard them."

For an effective security infrastructure, it is imperative to educate all the employees about security measures and go a step further and use AI/ML to pre-empt the problems that could arise and address them. Even within the enterprise, checks need to be put in place to ensure that a breach in the network is contained and does not spread.

“It all goes down to the enterprise architecture. As we are designing the network architecture and applications, security has to be integrated right from the start. It has to go down at each component level. It has to be on the network, the application and the data. The security policies can be centrally designed and locally adopted and deployed," Goel said.

This is coverage of a Mint event sponsored by Tata Communications.

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