Top 7 Cybersecurity Regulations in the Finance Industry [2024]

Cybersecurity incidents aren’t rare for businesses now. In fact, in the first 6 months of 2021, around 1767 data breach incidents rocked the business world and exposed more than 18 billion records. And one of the hardest-hit industry verticals from threatening cyber-attacks is the financial industry. 

As per research conducted by ImmuniWeb, more than 98% of the top-notch fintech businesses are vulnerable to severe cyberattacks, including app security attacks on mobile and web, ransomware and phishing among others.

One of the easiest ways to make financial service providers accountable for their security posture is through cybersecurity regulations. Being compliant with cybersecurity regulations means that businesses will align with the key security requirements and will be less vulnerable to security incidents.

However, complying with the right cybersecurity regulations is not as easy as anticipated because of the underlying challenges and innumerable intricate details. And that is why it becomes challenging for businesses to stick to stringent cybersecurity regulations and avoid any serious outcomes.

In this blog, we will demystify the world of cybersecurity regulations for your better understanding and highlight the top regulations and the associated best practices that are necessary for the financial services industry. 

What does Financial Cybersecurity Compliance Mean?

The term financial cybersecurity compliance refers to the security regulations implemented by financial institutions in order to prevent data breaches and maintain a strong security posture. The term also aligns with the adherence to laws and security regulations providing the minimal standard for data protection within the financial industry.

Governments or administrative security authorities create these regulations, and their implementation has an impact on the whole financial services business, including:

  • Mutual Funds
  • Investment Banks
  • Commercial Banks
  • Brokerage Firms
  • Insurance Companies
  • Credit Unions 
  • Wealth Management Firms

Top 7 Cybersecurity Regulations in the Financial Industry

Top 7 Cybersecurity Regulations in the Financial Industry


One of the biggest issues impacting financial industry cybersecurity compliance is the variety of security standards and the large overlaps between them, which is to be expected in the case of the most strictly regulated industries among all - the financial services industry. This problem can be overcome by focusing solely on the regulations that are required for financial institutions and avoiding the ones that are optional. 

The advantage of still continuing to implement optional regulatory standards is that the installation of their security safeguards may reduce cybersecurity risks even further. Keeping all of this in mind, we have compiled the list of the top 7 cybersecurity regulations that financial services companies must adhere to. Each of the regulations listed below promotes customer data security and data breach resistance.


PCI DSS or the Payment Card Industry (PCI) Data Security Standards (DSS) is a set of security standards developed by the Payment Card Industry (PCI) to reduce credit card fraud and secure the sensitive information of credit cardholders.

Credit card firms are required to comply with PCI DSS in order to protect the security of credit card transactions. The technical and operational standards that organisations need to follow to secure credit card data provided by cardholders and sent through card processing activities are developed and managed by the PCI Security Standards Council.

Is it Mandatory to Comply with PCI DSS?

PCI DSS should be followed by all organisations that receive or process customer credit card information, including retailers and payment solution providers.

Requirements of PCI DSS Compliance

The most important criteria of PCI compliance is that a company must secure other people's payment information as carefully as they would their own. Risks such as accidentally broadcasting credit card information or misplacing papers containing customer personal information cannot be taken. 

Every firm must safeguard its clients' transaction history, account information, and personal information. PCI DSS compliance requirements just assist firms in adhering to these cautious business practices and ensuring that their customers are protected to the greatest extent possible.

2. SOX 

The Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) Act was passed by the United States Congress in 2002 in order to safeguard investors against financial fraud. Through a set of internal checks, the SOX framework provides recommended security procedures for avoiding fraudulent financial activities. 

SOX has recently expanded into more than merely a framework for assuring the sanctity of financial records. It now contains cybersecurity components to guarantee that financial institutions are prepared to deal with frequent cybersecurity threats that could disrupt financial transactions.

Is it Mandatory to Comply with SOX?

SOX compliance is essential for all publicly listed businesses, including those who are in the financial sector.

Requirements of SOX Compliance

The Sarbanes-Oxley Act's provisions cover corporate governance and financial transparency for both U.S. and non-U.S. based businesses. This act mandates that all financial reports include an Internal Controls Report, which is an accurate representation of a company's financial facts. During the auditing of section 404, an auditor at SoX must undertake a comprehensive review of policies, controls, and procedures and ensure that internal controls and processes can be audited using a control framework.


The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is the US version of the International Institution for Standardization (ISO), which is an international organisation that regulates national standards organisations. NIST, like the ISO, provides a wide range of information security requirements, including cybersecurity compliance, which is addressed in NIST document 800-53. 

Originally, NIST 800-53 only applied to federal and government institutions, but the publication's most recent modification, revision 5, expanded its scope to include non-government entities. NIST 800-53 revision 5 contains a single set of controls to facilitate the harmonisation of numerous standards, in addition to a stronger emphasis on data security than prior revisions.

Is it Mandatory to Comply with NIST?

Compliance with NIST is mandatory for all US federal entities and their contractors. Also, complying with NIST is voluntary for private sector businesses, including financial service providers.

Requirements of NIST

NIST has designed a list of 110 requirements that address several aspects of an organization's IT technology, procedures and policies. Access control, system configuration, and authentication methods are all covered in these requirements. They also specify cybersecurity protocols and incident response plans. 

Each requirement addresses a cybersecurity vulnerability or improves a network component, and it comes with extensive 'explanation' text that helps the company comprehend the requirement's larger context. The implementation of each of these requirements ensures that an organization’s network, systems, and employees are all effectively ready to securely handle any Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI).

4. ISO/IEC 27001

ISO/IEC 27001 is a widely accepted worldwide standard for lowering security risks and safeguarding information systems. ISO/IEC 27001 is an internationally recognized set of security policies and processes that provide direction on how to improve a company's security posture in any industry. 

Financial institutions that want to demonstrate their exceptional cybersecurity procedures to stakeholders should pursue ISO/IEC 27001 accreditation, given its image as an internationally recognised benchmark for cyber attack resilience.

Is it Mandatory to Comply with ISO/IEC 27001?

In most countries, ISO 27001 is not mandatory. However, it is highly recommended for businesses in the financial services sector due to the framework's superior protection of sensitive data. ISO 27001 certification can also be used to demonstrate cybersecurity due diligence in other highly regulated areas, such as healthcare. 

Financial service businesses that do not intend to pursue ISO 27001 certification can nevertheless strengthen their cybersecurity by following the framework's list of domains and controls. If a business wants to publicly present proof of ISO/IEC 27001 compliance, certification is only suggested.

The other important benefit of adhering to this framework is that it would also assist your business with GDPR compliance when implemented along with an Information Security Management System (ISMS).

Requirements of ISO/IEC 27001

When adopting ISO/IEC 27001, the two most significant actions are scoping your ISMS (defining what information needs to be protected) and completing a risk assessment and creating a risk treatment methodology (identifying threats to your information). The following obligatory clauses must also be completed by organisations:

  • Risk treatment plan
  • Risk assessment report 
  • Information security policy and objectives
  • Information risk treatment process
  • Internal audit programme 
  • Results of internal audits
  • Records of skills, qualifications, training, and experience
  • Results of the management review
  • Results of corrective actions
  • Monitoring and measurement of results


The European Union's General Data Protection Regulation (EU-GDPR) is a security framework meant to prevent the personal data of citizens from being compromised. 

The GDPR applies to all enterprises that process data about EU individuals, whether manually or through automated processes. The GDPR highlights different security guidelines for both data processors and data controllers in order to secure the entire lifecycle of user data.

The following are some examples of personal data that are highly prioritized for protection under GDPR: 

  • Form submissions on websites. 
  • Cookie data that is collected from website visitors. 
  • Sending out promotional emails. 
  • Keeping track of IP addresses. 
  • Putting images or personal information about a person on a website. 
  • Personal information which was contained in the documents that were shredded. 

Is it Mandatory to Comply with GDPR?

Yes. GDPR compliance is required by the EU for financial services that collect or process personal data from EU residents, regardless of the business's actual location. 

Even if the company's headquarters are in the United States, a company offering a SaaS service to a worldwide customer base - including Europe - would be required to comply with the GDPR. 

GDPR compliance is a key issue for 92 % of US businesses, according to a PwC poll.

Requirements of GDPR

Companies must take appropriate data protection measures to protect consumers' personal data and privacy from loss or exposure, according to the GDPR. The most significant principles and requirements governing the management of personal data are summarised in Article 5 of the GDPR: 

  • Limited Purpose: Personal data of customers should only be gathered for legitimate, explicit and specific objectives, and should never be processed in a way that is incompatible with these goals.
  • Fairness, Lawfulness, and Transparency: Personal data should be processed in a way that is legitimate, fair, and transparent. 
  • Limitation on Storage: Personal data should not be stored for any longer than is required for the purposes for which it is processed. 
  • Accuracy: Personal data should be accurate and, where appropriate, kept up to date when stored and managed.
  • Integrity and Confidentiality: Personal data should be treated in a way that ensures proper security, such as protection against unauthorised or unlawful processing, as well as accidental loss, destruction, or damage. 
  • Data Minimization: Personal data gathering should be minimised, and data acquired must be useful to achieve a defined goal. 

6. Gramm Leach Bliley Act (GLBA)

Financial institutions are required by the Gramm–Leach–Bliley Act (GLBA) to secure consumer data and to fully disclose all data-sharing practices to clients. Financial institutions must create security controls to protect client information from any occurrences that risk data integrity and safety under this US statute. To reduce the chances of unwanted access and compromise, this includes stringent financial information access rules.

Is it Mandatory to Comply with GLBA?

Yes. All businesses selling financial products or services in the United States must comply with the GLBA. The following financial entities are required to comply with GLBA: 

  • Promote financial services. 
  • Offer or sell financial services. 
  • Make financial loans available. 
  • Make any financial or investment recommendations. 
  • Sell insurance.

Requirements of GLBA

The Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act established numerous fundamental guidelines for the collection, disclosure, and protection of nonpublic personal information or personally identifiable information held by consumers (PII). The two major requirements associated with the act are:

A) Financial Privacy Rule- This rule compels financial institutions to give each customer privacy notice at the start of the relationship and every year after that. The privacy notice must clarify what information is gathered about the customer, where that information is shared, how it is used, and how it is safeguarded. 

The notice should also incorporate the consumer's rights under the Fair Credit Reporting Act to opt-out of having their personal information shared with any unaffiliated third parties. Unaffiliated parties who receive non-public information should be bound by the consumer's original relationship agreement's acceptance terms. 

B) Safeguards Rule- The Safeguards Rule mandates that financial institutions create a written information security plan outlining their methods and procedures for safeguarding clients' NPI. Covered entities must conduct a thorough risk analysis of each department that handles nonpublic information, as well as establish, monitor, and test a programme to protect the data. 

If the way data is gathered, kept, and used changes, the protections must be changed as well. The federal government has established a set of guidelines for protecting client information.

7. Payment Service Directive (PSD 2)

The Payment Services Directive 2 (PSD 2) is a European Union directive that promotes competition in the banking sector. PSD-2 is a financial data security standard developed by the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS). 

PSD 2 comprises standards for securing online payments, strengthening customer data security, and strong client authentication to ensure that banking transactions in the EU are secure (eg, multi-factor authentication).

Is it Mandatory to Comply with PSD 2?

Yes. The PSD 2 directives apply to all banks and financial institutions in the European Union. Non-compliance with PSD 2 can result in a fine of up to EUR 20.000.000 (about 23 million USD) or 4% of yearly income (whichever is greater).

Requirements of PSD 2

The PSD 2 regulation sets requirements for banks and fintech to share account information only to those third-party service providers (TPPs) with account holders' authorization. Customers will be able to: 

A) Access a consolidated view of their bank account information through Account Information Service Providers (AISPs)
B) Start and process online payments through Payment Initiation Service Providers (PISPs)

Account Servicing Payment Service Providers are financial firms that handle customer accounts under PSD 2 (ASPSPs). 

The ASPSPs that manage customer accounts must provide a safe means for Third-Party Payment Providers (TPPs) to access customer information with the customer's authorization. TPPs are divided into two kinds in PSD 2: AISPs and PISPs. Customers can access information from several service providers using AISPs. Customers can make online payments straight from their personal bank accounts via PISPs.

Security Best Practices for Financial Cybersecurity Regulations

BCG has recently stated in their research that the fintech firms are 300 times more likely than other companies to be targeted by threat actors. Moreover, handling the aftermath of those attacks will carry a much higher cost for finance and wealth managers than for any other competing sector. 

The situation gets even more complex because of a variety of security controls demanded by different regulations

However, a majority of the overlapping security controls associated with these regulations can be addressed by sticking to the following best cybersecurity practices.

1. Perform Regular VA+PT to Stay Compliant with Fintech Regulations

Conducting regular Vulnerability Assessments and Penetration Testing can help fintech companies detect and remediate vulnerabilities that could lead to data breaches quickly. Financial services can also use these regular tests to strengthen their security posture and meet the stringent cyber resilience requirements of most regulations. 

2. Implement a Zero-Trust Policy 

Until proven differently, a zero-trust design thinks all network activity is malicious. This framework promotes more secure privileged access management, making it harder for threat actors to gain access to critical information.

3. Have an Incident Response Plan Set in Advance 

Having a properly framed Cybersecurity Incident Response Plan in advance can instruct your IT and cybersecurity experts on how to respond to a significant security incident, such as a data breach, data leak, ransomware attack, or loss of critical data. 

4. Manage Third-Party-Risks 

In order to make your systems ready for regulation compliance, it is essential to manage your third-party risks through an efficient TPRM (Third-Party Risk Management) solution. It will secure your entire third-party vendor network by certifying cybersecurity improvements with security ratings and evaluating compliance with security assessments. Advanced TPRM solutions can additionally map security assessment responses to vendor-specific mandated rules to detect flaws that prohibit compliance.

5. Encrypt Valuable Data 

Data leaks not only hasten data breaches but also disclose sensitive information that may be in violation of regulations. That is why encrypting your data beforehand can go a long way. Encryption can address exposures both inside and across the vendor network could and also help avoid regulatory infractions and the penalties that come with them if they go unnoticed.

Final Thoughts

As a result of an increasing number of cyberattacks particularly aimed at the financial industry, various mandatory cybersecurity legislation has been introduced. Regulatory compliance is one of the most successful ways for holding financial services accountable for their security posture, despite the fact that it is typically seen as an unneeded burden on security teams. 

To stay relevant in a continuously changing threat world, cybersecurity policies must be malleable. As a result, the financial sector must keep up with changes to existing legislation as well as the introduction of new information security requirements on a regular basis.

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Published on Dec 29, 2021
Subho Halder
Written by Subho Halder
Subho Halder is the CISO and Co-Founder of Appknox. He started his career researching Mobile Security. Currently, he helps businesses to detect and fix security vulnerabilities. He has also detected critical loopholes in companies like Google, Facebook, Apple, and others


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