BusinessForensics: No surprises - Tames Rietdijk
Future Banking talks to Tames Rietdijk, managing director at BusinessForensics, about how his firm is providing financial institutions with tools for forecasting threats and perfecting their cyberdefences.
For Tames Rietdijk, managing director at IT firm BusinessForensics, cybersecurity is all about the way financial institutions asymmetrically fight an enemy who is dedicated to finding the weakest link in a bank's online defences. In this conflict, continued survival depends on the latter's capacity to anticipate danger and react to it, rather than waiting for it to happen.
"Banks are definitely not fighting a losing battle," says Rietdijk. "Our clients are quickly catching up and gaining momentum. That said, financial institutions will never get ahead of fraudsters; the important thing is to be as responsive and resilient as possible. The IT platforms we supply enable them to do that, detecting any new fraud or method immediately after it is run."
BusinessForensics was founded in 2010 as a third-generation monitoring and analysis solution for financial crime prevention. "Like every start-up, we entered our fair share of innovation competitions," says Rietdijk. "In 2013, we acquired our first licensed customer, and later that year we began working with a Dutch tier-one bank. BusinessForensics became instrumental in that bank's global forensics incident management programme, and has been attracting new customers in banking and insurance ever since."
Rietdijk's previous career provided him with vital insights into where cybersecurity was most effective. "I started out in chartered accounting, where I learned everything about the 'what' of financial reporting, before joining an accounting software developer, and operating commodity and stock exchanges, where I quickly learned the 'why'," he says. "Then, about ten years ago, I switched to financial crime prevention to explore the dark side of financial reporting."
Such interests confirmed to Rietdijk and his team the importance of forecasting threats and reacting to them early. "From primarily monitoring payment transactions, we now find ourselves tracking a variety of events, including orders, trades, internet sessions and firewall logs," Rietdijk explains.
In recent years, fraudsters have adapted to this shifting technological landscape. "Cybercriminals have become more sophisticated, flexible and organised," says Rietdijk. "With ever-new technological developments, your monitoring system needs to be as agile and resilient as the fraudsters that co-opt them. Banks can't afford to wait for new updates to their systems from software vendors, so we've developed a system that puts the end user, not us, at the helm of detection and monitoring routines."
To that end, BusinessForensics offers software solutions that provide multilayered analysis capabilities and detection mechanisms that include behavioural profiling, rules engines, anomaly detection and machine-learning algorithms. "In this regard, our HQ platform is essential in providing the client with an investigation program that flags all the threats identified in an abstract and understandable way," says Rietdijk. "Our other two modules, TX and CM, aid our clients in improving the quality of their data streams and integrating threat reports from third-party programs into a single analysis environment respectively."
This allows the company's software to deal with the many 'false positive' events that banking security programs typically engage with. "Any time spent on such events is time wasted, unless your system can learn and improve itself from what has been designated as a false positive," adds Rietdijk. "The key is not to ignore these events, but to recognise them as happening as soon as possible, and process them efficiently and automatically. That lowers costs and increases the amount of time available to get to grips with true positives."
Little by little
Rietdijk and his team believe that more than 60% of all fraud attempts have a cyber-origin. "Those that are successful usually happen after the customer of a financial institution fails to update the software they use to make online transactions. That, or we see technical expertise on the part of cybercriminals being combined with a singular awareness of social engineering," he adds. "Here, the fraudster usually calls their victims pretending to be their bank, soliciting password information and personal details."
It's this mixture of high-level technical expertise and opportunistic élan that confirms the usefulness of being able to see the forest for the trees when it comes to cybersecurity. For BusinessForensics, this realisation has been put to good use through the creation of a system that pulls together awareness of all existing and potential future threats into an accessible and easy-to-use platform.
"This centralisation of analysis has proven very successful in the Netherlands, where financial economic crime units from a range of banks cooperate in investigations. As a result, Dutch banks are better able to perceive threats, identify fraudsters and eliminate any future opportunities for criminal activity," Rietdijk says.
To the managing director of BusinessForensics, therein lies the future of cybersecurity in finance and new opportunities for financial institutions to optimise the vast amounts of information they amass in facilitating the needs of their customers. "It allows you to access so much more information, and you can use the same analysis and detection mechanisms as in cybersecurity to continue optimising internal processes. These are, in terms of cost savings, improving a bank's operating efficiency and preventing common attempts at fraud," Rietdijk concludes.