There are seminal moments in industries as there are in life. For Chief Information Security Officers (CISOs), that moment came and was accelerated by 9/11. After the tragedy, security was amped up to the nth degree.
One thing needing that security is a digital bank. Described as “a bank that operates online and provides its customers with the services that were previously available only at a bank branch, the digital bank is packed with data.
With a deck of cards on screen that embraces a career that started out on a help desk (dull and devoid of challenge) to a CISO (who loves Mondays) with 23 years in-between, Russell Okoth, CISO, Apex Fintech Solutions, is a cyclist – a habit he acquired during lockdown, a former rugby player when he was still living in Kenya, married, has two sons and two dogs (Jatelo & Jaber).
Starting out by declaring his presentation is filled with facts and experience, he states this should not be taken as professional advice. For that, he welcomes you to his LinkedIn page. After defining what a digital bank is, one can go further and look across generations. How different are their banking preferences? It determines whether interactions and dynamics change. Okoth confirms that one needs to “Understand the audiences we are trying to provide service to and leverage. If a digital experience was had, then try to see if it worked.” Why? Because “Security is no longer playing a supporting role, but is part of the business.” Providing security, convenience, ease of interaction, and connection is what will separate one digital bank from other digital banks.
With a shortage of tech talent amounting to 3 million, creating a huge skills gap, he observes that with an 89 per cent churn rate, it would be posssible to meet the security target. That way, hackers are stifled across all fronts – and back end.
One thing that is mistaken for security tends to be compliance. That, Okoth points out, is not security. Having a workspace that follows rules is simply not enough. “As an insider, I tell the board insiders are not only employees and ICT team. It includes our customers because we have given them access.”
He adds the anthem of every cybersecurity expert on the planet when he says “You are as strong as your weakest link.” It begs the question, how do you then protect infrastructure? Executive support. Security must start from the top. It sets the tone for the organisation. “Don’t wait for compliance to have it’s turn once a year. You need to know how much intelligence is being shared? You need to have private, public and government sector coming on board together. It is wartime and we share the same enemy.”