Hands type on a keyboard at a dimly lit laptop.

Encrypted Drives in Finance – A Must for Cybersecurity and Compliance

All businesses handle sensitive information at some point in their day-to-day operations, whether in maintaining payroll details for personnel or securely storing intellectual property. But banks, investment firms, and other financial institutions handle sensitive information in nearly all aspects of their work. Keeping client financial records secure isn’t just a core part of the service financial institutions offer – it’s a legal mandate with severe consequences for any mishandling of private data.

These mandates are compounded by the fact that financial institutions are “leading targets of cyber-attacks,” according to the Center for Strategic and International Studies, which further explains that banks are a figurative smorgasbord for cybercriminals, offering “multiple avenues for profit through extortion, theft, and fraud.” The financial data held by banks, investment firms, and credit unions are especially valuable, as criminals can make quick work of bank account numbers, credit card information, and transaction details to steal funds or hold accounts for ransom.

When cybercriminals do strike, the results of an attack are costly, averaging $5.97 million USD – the highest of any industry outside of healthcare. With the potential for identity theft, financial fraud, and even corporate espionage, financial institutions must keep their data loss prevention strategies well-equipped and up-to-date. But keeping financial data secure “at rest” is only part of the challenge, as it’s often necessary to transmit data between people and computers, whether across offices or oceans.

A Kingston IronKey Vault Privacy 50 USB drive plugged into a laptop. Blue binary characters & a display of the passphrase field with the phrase ‘My dog is 1 year old!’ are visible beneath the drive.

When a computer or poorly-protected storage device with this kind of information is lost or falls into the wrong hands, assessing the damage and protecting customers from the fallout becomes an expensive and time-consuming challenge.

Even USB drives that have been encrypted with a software solution, such as BitLocker and many others, can lull many into a false sense of security. But let’s be clear, using software encryption alone cannot defend against concerted Brute Force Attacks, which can easily crack common passwords in seconds and more complicated passwords in a matter of hours or a few days. That’s why hardware-encrypted drives like the enterprise-grade security Kingston IronKey Vault Privacy 50 series, the Vault Privacy 80 External SSD, and the military-grade security Keypad 200 and D500S are the only type of portable storage that can offer true peace of mind when transporting sensitive financial data.

Because of the drive’s built-in secure microprocessor, the IronKey Vault Privacy 50, 80ES, Keypad 200 and D500S drives are able to detect multiple password attempts (called a Brute Force attack) and execute a crypto-wipe before hackers can get in. And thanks to the KP200 and D500S drives’ military-grade tamper-resistant epoxy construction, advanced attempts at disassembling the drive to attack its components are rendered virtually impossible without destroying the drive and the encrypted data contained within it.

The consequences of a data breach damage not only a firm’s reputation but also its legal and financial standing. With strict data protection regulations such as the SEC’s cybersecurity disclosure requirements or the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), sensitive financial data is required to be protected by appropriate measures, such as encryption. Financial professionals should look to hardware-encrypted drives for data transportation without risk to comply with these regulations and avoid significant fines and legal penalties.

A view of Taipei’s skyline at dusk, skyscrapers lit up, Taipei 101 towering over the city’s financial district.

For international business travelers in the finance industry, the potential vulnerability of exposing sensitive data is heightened, especially in destinations with more intense digital restrictions. In some countries, an employee’s personal device may be required to be unlocked and possibly imaged by authorities for further investigation. This presents a significant risk for breach of confidential client information or a firm’s intellectual property. The use of a hardware-encrypted IronKey USB drive and external SSDs can provide more data protection than a laptop or phone. While those devices can be legally confiscated for a period of time, encrypted drives can be forfeited to authorities with strong confidence that data will remain protected and inaccessible.

Considering the value of the assets handled by financial institutions, as well as the swaths of personal data key to their operations, those responsible for data protection within the finance sector have to seriously invest in data protection and empower their employees with the right tools to do so before the consequences of a breach or hack begin to be realized. Hardware-encrypted IronKey drives are critical tools for maintaining data security without complicating existing data workflows.

By protecting sensitive financial data with a trusted solution while in transit and at its most vulnerable, financial institutions can shore up their cybersecurity defenses and, more importantly, prevent costly attacks before they happen.

So, whether you are a finance entity spanning a country or continent or a truly global financial services organization, Kingston IronKey offers a vast range of hardware-encrypted drives suited to the unique circumstances of finance. And as a result, these drives can make the difference in providing relatively inexpensive insurance to guard against data loss and theft vs. the high price-tag impacts of breaches, no matter where you happen to be working.

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