In the past year, the complexity of securing financial institutions and the need to develop a new paradigm has grown exponentially. Rapid technological change and evolving threats have challenged conventional security measures, rendering them obsolete. Furthermore, in light of growing geopolitical tensions, ensuring security has become a top priority. The financial sector is confronted with an increasing number of threats on a daily basis, and the deleterious impact of such threats on business continuity and the economy is observable in real-time. Experts have identified the financial sector as being in a state of crisis, experiencing catastrophic turbulence. Urgent solutions are required to address the situation in the banking sector and prevent the occurrence of a financial pandemic that could engulf the entire banking system.
Amidst this context, the announcement from the European ISI Institute regarding the establishment of a novel security paradigm for financial institutions appears to be quite ambitious. The event, held on March 27, 2023 on the platform of the Institute, coincided almost synchronously with the biggest collapses in the financial banking infrastructure. It is highly likely that the prompt response to the challenges was due to a series of studies that were conducted over time, as solutions cannot be developed overnight. While the specifics of the research remain unknown, the individuals who comprised the expert group are known:
– Professor Harvey Wolf Kushner. Chairman of the Criminal Justice Department and a Professor of Criminal Justice at LIU Post, Brookville, New York. Internationally recognized expert on terrorism. Kushner has authored numerous columns, editorials, and six books, five of which focus on the pervasive problems inherent in international and transnational terrorism. His best-seller Encyclopedia of Terrorism has won numerous awards.
– Dr. Oleg Maltsev. Author, criminologist, security expert, psychologist, photographer, and investigative journalist. He is a member of the presidium and academic researcher at the European Academy of Sciences in Ukraine (EUASU) and a member of the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences. He is an author of numerous books in areas such as applied history, sociology, depth psychology, philosophy, criminalistics, and criminology. He is an editor of several interdisciplinary peer-reviewed journals.
– Oliver Pahnecke. PhD candidate at Middlesex University. He obtained his LLM in International Business Law at Central European University, Budapest, and works as a fair trial expert for international organisations. He works as a rule of law expert for international missions and as a consultant for technical co-operation and finance.
– Andrew Hoskins. EUASU Academician, Interdisciplinary Professor of Global Security in the College of Social Sciences, University of Glasgow UK. His latest book (with Matthew Ford) is Radical War: Data, Attention & Control in the Twenty-First Century (Hurst/OUP). He is founding Co-Editor-in-Chief of the Cambridge Journal of Memory, Mind & Media (2021-), founding Editor-in-Chief of the Sage Journal of Memory Studies (2008-), and founding Co-Editor-in- Chief of the Journal of Digital War (2020-).
– Prof. Vitalii Lunov. Associate Professor in Bogomolets National Medical University. Presidium member and academician of European Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, Member of the American Psychological Association, the American Academy of Clinical Psychology, World Federation for Mental Health (USA), and the European Academy of Natural Sciences (Hannover, Germany).
– Costantino Slobodyanuk. Presidium Member of EUASU. Associate fellow of the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences. Head of the Strategic council of the Information Security Institute. Head of Сivil Society Organization Kavalyer. Editor-in-chief of the Newspaper Unsolved Crimes. He is engaged in the studies of online reputation management and security of enterprises.
– Olga Panchenko. Corresponding Member of EUASU, attorney, and Director of Redut Law Company. n An associate fellow of the Ukraine Academy of Sciences. Chief editor of the Newsletter on the Results of Scholarly Work: in sociology, criminology, philosophy and political science. Journalist of the newspaper Unsolved Crimes. Presidium member of Odessa Scientific-Humanitarian Society and Historic- Literature Scientific Society.
– Pavlo Pedina. EUASU expert, expert in finance, banking, insurance, and asset valuation. Financial consultant. Investment adviser for Slav Invest, financial director of MANORM Holding, and the head of the Paradox Credit Protection Society.
The figure of Professor Harvey Wolf Kushner may be considered central in this context. As a recognized authority on terrorism, Dr. Kushner has contributed as an analyst on criminal investigations, intelligence, and terrorism for the U.S. Department of Probation. He is recognized as one of the first terrorism experts to have warned about a secret terror network operating in the United States. He is also the author of numerous writings and five books on terrorism including the multi-award winning Encyclopedia of Terrorism (SAGE Publications). Dr. Harvey Kushner has advised elected officials, military personnel, and foreign governments as well as trained federal agencies from the DHS to the FBI. He maintains close ties to a number of federal agencies, and his inclusion on the panel implies that the foundations of the new security paradigm and resulting program will likely draw from his experience and practices gained in working with these agencies.
Welcome Mr. Human Factor
Notwithstanding the acceleration of processes and rapid improvements in technology, one area that is frequently overlooked is the human factor, which represents the weakest link. Throughout the evolution of the security concept, certain experts have emphasized the human factor at different times, but presently, digitalization has exacerbated this issue. Even the most advanced security technology can prove to be ineffective in the event of human error. Imagine a scenario where an employee forgets to encrypt important information before sending it online. This simple mistake could lead to unintended disclosure of sensitive data to unauthorized people. As Dr. Kushner noted:
“In a movement from technology of the past to the technology of today, most of the failures almost a complete number of failures that you have at financial institutions are because of human error and human mistake. They’re not Hardware failure”.
If you get it wrong, it’s game over
You won’t have a customer base if you don’t show that you’ve got authority and can keep your customers safe. Financial services face a stronger threat of outdated security standards compared to other critical industries. The growing sophistication and persistence of cybercrime, as well as the increasing use of high-tech tools by cybercriminals, underscores the challenge the industry regularly faces in trying to anticipate what threats they will face in the future. Instead of attempting to predict the next threat, the roundtable participants suggest solving the primary issue: the human factor, and developing a program that addresses this critical issue. The primary objective of this unique expert program is to reduce the likelihood of human error while also equipping specialists with the necessary tools.
The use of mass-market tools creates vulnerabilities
During his presentation, Professor Kushner emphasized the need for “a dialogue to come up with tools to investigate employees potential people working in the financial sector and these tools that we need to develop cannot be tools that are available to the mass Market. These have to be new, fresh tools”. Security is an existential requirement for the financial industry and it’s not something you can take lightly.
However, the irony in this situation is that financial institutions frequently rely on mass-market tools, which has resulted in their collapse at various times. In other words, to ensure protection, one must employ tools that are not available on the market, tools that cannot be purchased. For instance, attempting to purchase a program that reduces human error or personnel selection techniques used by the FBI would be futile. This is why intelligence agencies possess the most effective security measures.
Today there is a direct need for the security culture approach to be linked primarily to the human factor approach in reducing financial risks. And the principles of the human factor in banking and finance (as with other high-reliability industries) must be put first. According to the organizers of the event, an agreement was reached to develop a program aimed at minimizing the human factor and defining the requirements for its subsequent implementation within the next few months. Summarizing his presentation, Dr. Kushner said:
“Our work is cut out to develop a paradigm which will have at its basis new tools that would be able to differentiate who would be an important and valuable asset for your company”.
Therefore, the transition towards practical solutions represents a substantial milestone in the development of the security sector and financial institutions, with a current emphasis on minimizing the human factor as a fundamental component in the protection and fortification of the financial industry.