Are There Too Many Security Alerts at Banks?

June 27, 2017         By: Steven Anderson

For the longest time, mobile payments has been hampered by a perceived lack of security. It seems like just about every report we hear coming out about why mobile payments aren’t taking off features “security” right at the top of the list. It turns out the converse of this might actually be true, and there might be too much security, at least as far as some banks are reporting.

New word from an Ovum study says that fully 37 percent of banks, almost two in every five, are getting over 200,000 security alerts every single day. What’s more, that’s just the upper end figure; 17 percent of banks are actually getting over 300,000 alerts per day.

Ovum’s Rik Turner referred to this as a “signal-to-noise ratio problem,” and that was a point assented by Wells Fargo chief information security officer Rich Baich, who said that the answer to this problem was to automate the alert response mechanisms.

McAfee chief technology officer Raj Samani offered a note of assent, saying “There’s no way any organization can do the necessary analysis on 200,000 events a day. Even if we take it back a touch, 61% of organizations receive in excess of 100,000 events a day. It’s far too much to deal with in a practical fashion. A number of those events will simply be ignored.”

Samani also related how organizations were currently dealing with more than 25 separate tools for managing security. Talking to a McAfee client, Samani noted how there were new tools out for checking bitcoin wallet addresses.

The client moaned in response: “God, no, not another dashboard.”

While some project that better interoperability would help here, it remains clear that some degree of automation is all but required in order to address these issues. While it might perhaps be helpful to just go on a hiring binge—it’d certainly add a lot of jobs to the economy to manage all those threats—the costs that would follow might well beggar even the largest banks.

We want security in our mobile payment and mobile banking products. Yet we have to be able to manage that security effectively. There’s little value in ignored alerts, but with so many alerts coming in, there are few alternatives.