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Essential resources for banking executives:enter ‘Banking Reinvented’

Becoming secure by design with a unified platform model

In the fourth and final blog of our cybersecurity series, you’ll learn how your bank can pull off a speedy digital transformation while boosting overall cyber resilience, using tips from CISO Brian Vlootman.

by Brian Vlootman


Legacy systems are a pain to deal with, as I’m sure you’re aware. We could spend all day counting the ways they drive up your bank’s operating costs, stymie innovation, and slow your growth. But for our purposes here, let’s focus on one key thing: legacy banking architecture is inherently indefensible against cyberattacks. And that should be yet another red flag for you, as a banking leader.

Like I explained in the previous blog in this series, there’s plenty of emerging tech out there that can help you combat the new wave of cyberattacks, but your legacy systems simply aren’t up to the task. And not only that, they’re also making you more susceptible to these attacks and adding vulnerability in a few key ways, which will make your bank an increasingly attractive target in the months to come. In fact, according to Central Banking’s Fintech Benchmarks 2024, surveyed banks voted for cyber security and adapting legacy systems as their top two issues (78.9%, 71.1%, respectively), again demonstrating the link between the two.

Let me make one thing clear — this is not your fault. I’ve talked to dozens upon dozens of banking leaders, and if you’re anything like them, you’ve been handed the legacy burden and asked to shoulder it. However, while you may not be responsible for the past, you are responsible for the future, and that’s why your bank needs to rapidly modernize its tech infrastructure.

Unfortunately, actually pulling this off is easier said than done, given the complexity of undergoing digital transformation at scale — but there is a way to progressively modernize at lower risk and cost. Let’s take a look at what this means and why it’s your bank’s best shot at a speedy digital transformation that also ensures a significantly higher level of cyber resilience.

The power of progressive modernization

There’s a ton of digital transformation strategies out there, but let’s take the lead from McKinsey here and agree on three primary methods for banks: big bang, greenfield, and progressive modernization. I don’t want to take the time to deep-dive on these first two (we already do that in this guide and this blog), so let’s zero in on the final option and how it relates to cyber resilience.

Progressive modernization is simple: first, you identify friction and transform one banking journey at a time. By leveraging incremental change and iterative improvements, you’ll be able to modernize your most important customer journeys and underlying processes, all while mitigating risks and maximizing both customer and business value. It’s an end-to-end, modular process that saves you time and money, reduces complexity, and accelerates delivery, allowing you to respond quickly to cyberattacks and quickly turn around any cybersecurity initiative.

This approach to tech modernization is best when combined with what we call the “buy plus build” approach, as well as a unified platform model. By first purchasing a foundational platform backbone like ours, you’ll get roughly 80% of what you need to operate your bank, right out of the box. That will get you up and running, fast, and after that, you can devote your resources to innovation and differentiation, rather than reinventing the wheel. By uniting the best aspects of the “buy” and “build” approaches, you’ll be able to focus on the things that matter the most, while your platform provider does the “plumbing,” so to speak. And don’t worry, that includes state-of-the-art tech that will boost your cyber resilience, without any labor from you. Let’s take a look at a few of those defensive measures now.

Backbase: your partner in cyber resilience

At Backbase, we’re proud to provide a platform that’s secure by design. But what does that mean? For one thing, our platform is built using zero-trust principles, allowing you to drive cyber resilience. We focus on security in all phases of our software development lifecycle (SDLC), including threat modeling during the design process. We constantly consider what we can do to ensure your bank’s operational teams have everything they need to get actionable insights, and that means we’re inherently more defensible than any legacy system you can find out there. With additional context and data points, you’ll be able to make more informed decisions about your bank’s security, allowing you to shore up your defenses and also immediately detect when they’re breached.

On top of that, our platform features strong customer identity and access management (CIAM) measures, including secure, phishing-resistant, passwordless options for an enhanced user experience and superior security. This may seem basic, but banks waste millions of dollars every year building “basics” like this from scratch, when they could instead work with a provider like us, allowing them to accelerate delivery and reallocate budget towards the projects that matter.

As I explained in a previous blog, one of the biggest threats for your bank is supply-chain risk, but with full insights into our solution — as well as software transparency using the industry-standard SBOM — you’ll be in full control and have the confidence that you’re aware of any potential vulnerabilities. We’ve even instituted many other must-have features, including behavioral intelligence to identify legitimate users, track fraud patterns, and more. And for those making use of Backbase-as-a-Service, you also get runtime protection against exploitation, allowing you to mitigate application vulnerabilities, including zero days.

Of course, cyber resilience is a moving target, but rest assured that we’ve not only covered the basics, we’re also your first line of support. We’re only a phone call away, and we’ve got your back, any time, any place. Of course, you’ll want to build your own cybersecurity processes, but our job is to make things as easy for your bank as possible. We also continuously maintain our platform, solutions, and integrations to ensure you’re fully cyber resilient, no matter what comes your way. And, at the end of the day, isn’t that the kind of partner you want by your bank’s side?