Matt | 03 October 2022

How Can Software Developers Help Banks Safeguard Customer Data?

Developing software with security in mind is crucial to any software developer. However, when it comes to the world of open banking, the stakes are even higher. Open banking has been created as a way to help customers of financial institutions have more control of their money throughout their entire financial footprint. This is done by allowing them to share their data with other authorised banking institutions.

While, in theory, it makes banking easier for the customer, it can carry some risks, which is why a secure system that focuses on data protection is key.

Any developer or cybersecurity engineer who works within this sector knows that the balance between security and accessibility is fundamental. How can software developers find that common ground between giving a customer peace and security that their money is safe whilst allowing them the freedom to control their money in this modern financial stage? Let’s take a look.

Begin by setting up guidelines

The need for creating software that is, first and foremost, private and secure is evident. Now more than ever, it is crucial to be proactive and compliant, not only for GDPR purposes but also to ensure the best user experience.

A service that is encrypted appropriately and data that is safeguarded will prevent system downtime, leading to a system that operates exactly as it should.

Consider the sensitivity of the data

Firstly, you will need to consider how much of the customer’s data will be shared with third parties and how that can affect security protocols. There are three levels of data sensitivity to consider when developing banking software.

Highly sensitive information can include bank account numbers, credit or debit card numbers, customer addresses, dates of birth or even email addresses.

Anything that is to be protected by contractual, legal, and ethical obligations should be treated as highly sensitive.

Moderately sensitive content can include information that the customer may choose to keep private. Meaning there is no such contractual obligation but more of an ethical one to do so. This could include addresses, dates of birth or email addresses.

Low-sensitivity content is more straightforward as it is information that may be found in the public domain, such as someone’s full name.

In practice, the ideal solution is for banks to treat all customer data as highly sensitive.

How visible will the customer’s data be?

Data visibility refers to the actual data that the customer discloses to the banking software or application. Again, there are three levels of security to consider, and each has its own set of protocols that should be followed.

High visibility data is data that is available to see to anyone that has access to the application or software. This could be anything from the account balance, incoming and outgoing payments, and merchant names in transactions.

Moderate visibility data is data that is dependent upon the customer’s privacy preferences. This could range from making a full account number visible or only making available the last four digits of a credit card number.

Low visibility data is data that is much more sensitive and only visible to the application. For example, a customer’s PIN.

What is the data affinity?

Data affinity refers to how the data is bound to the software and how it is crucial to its functionality.

Data of the highest affinity is absolutely necessary for the software to execute its primary functions. If this information is not present, then the software simply cannot run. Whilst, moderate affinity data is necessary only to enhance the value that is received from the software. Lastly, the lowest affinity data is data that is not necessary for the functionality of the software.

By setting up these guidelines, you will be able to measure the needs of the software and ensure that the protocol to achieve the highest levels of data protection is met.

As our digital world and our day-to-day needs, such as banking, intertwine even more, we need to be more confident than ever that they fully and efficiently merge. Data privacy regulations, such as GDPR, are helping push compliance to the level that is required. Heeding this type of regulatory requirement will ensure that software is more closely guarded and protected from any sort of security violations.

As software developers and cybersecurity engineers work to control the sensitivity, visibility, and affinity of the customer’s data, they will also be significantly helping reduce the risk of a breach of privacy that may occur.

All of this is key to the success of systems that are being newly implemented, such as open banking. Whilst it is still a fairly new concept in the grand scheme of things, this is surely not going to be the first of its kind. There will be more innovation and more open source systems in the future, and following the protocol and compliance guidelines will help everything run as properly as it should, both now and in the future.