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The Green Sheet Online Edition

January 11, 2010 • Issue 10:01:01

Research Rundown

Security threats to Uncle Sam

#dch_To determine the biggest security threats to U.S. federal organizations in terms of sensitive and confidential data, core information systems and critical infrastructure over the next few years, Ponemon Institute LLC interviewed 217 information technology (IT) executive-level security experts to find out what security risks are, or should be, a concern for organizations in the federal sector.

Ponemon's November 2009 Cyber Security Mega Trends Study focuses on 10 cyber security mega trends and how each is believed to significantly affect an organization's security ecosystem. According to senior-level IT executives surveyed from various federal organizations, developments causing most susceptibility to security risks include the rapid growth in unstructured data assets, mobility of the federal workforce, cyber terrorism, cloud computing and outsourcing.

According to the report, the biggest threats to confidential data and proprietary government systems are cyber terrorism and Internet security weaknesses. The report found the following:

  • Seventy-one percent of respondents believe cyber terrorism is on the rise and poses a serious threat to the protection of proprietary systems.
  • Fifty-two percent said Web 2.0 applications, such as social networking, social messaging, blogging and wikis, contribute to leakage of confidential or sensitive information, as well as susceptibility to malware and botnet attacks.

For more information, visit www.ponemon.org/data-security.

A rewarding quest

#dch_A December 2009 report from Aite Group LLC looks at U.S. financial institutions' spending on rewards programs through 2013, the trends that will shape that spending and the vendors that are competing for market share. In Financial Services Rewards Programs: The Quest for Profitability, Aite found that nearly half of consumers belong to a rewards program, with 70 percent of all credit cardholders owning at least one rewards-based card.

According to Aite, rewards card ownership increases card usage, affects purchase considerations and improves a marketer's ability to target potential customers. Additionally, loyalty program success has resulted in financial services firms seriously considering adding loyalty programs to other financial products.

The report also analyzes how the profitability of debit card rewards programs varies widely depending on penetration rates, program costs and increases in spending levels.

The roadmap to new revenue

#dch_Aite also assesses financial institutions' development priorities for the online banking channel in 2010 in its December 2009 study Online Banking: Product Development Roadmap 2010. The report, based on interviews with senior online channel executives from 20 of the 100 largest U.S. banks, reveals that executives are optimistic about their online budgets for 2010. Over half anticipate their budgets to be 15 percent higher than in 2009.

Although individual banks are pursuing different online strategies, one theme prevails: channel integration and financial institutions' need to integrate sales, service and customer experience. Ron Shevlin, Senior Analyst with Aite, said the tide of embracing online alternatives as a primary channel is changing as banks are "waking up to the reality of online potential."

For more information, visit www.aitegroup.com.

Core offerings for mid-sized banks

#dch_In its latest report from December 2009, Core Banking Solutions for Midsize Banks: A Global Perspective, Celent LLC examines the opportunities for payment professionals to leverage Internet technology to handle transactions. It also compares the range of solutions available to mid-sized banks worldwide. Core banking systems support operations and payment processing using Internet banking, ATMs, mobile devices and debit cards.

"Banks' increasing need for diverse functionalities has driven core banking vendors to upgrade their products to provide a complete offering on a flexible infrastructure," said Rajesh M R, Celent Analyst and the report's co-author. "Banks are looking for modern solutions that can scale up with their growth and help them handle their customers effectively."

Protecting the payment stream

#dch_Celent also surveyed over 300 payment and insurance professionals to examine the insurance industry's perspective on payments and the processing solutions that support insurers. Payment Solutions and Insurance: Emerging Opportunities for Leverage, published in November 2009, found that both insurers and payments industry experts need to recognize payment capabilities as a potential competitive advantage and take appropriate steps to protect transactions.

The key finding is that financial entities typically focus on processing efficiency and unit costs. These factors, while important, should be viewed in conjunction with agent and customer service requirements, process optimization and total ownership costs of solutions, Celent said.

For more information, visit www.celent.com/index.htm. end of article

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