Secrets Rotation For The Fintech Industry: A Key to Robust Security and Compliance

Adam Cheriki, Co-founder & CTO, Entro
July 17, 2023

Fact – in the  fintech market, robust security measures are not just a priority — it’s a necessity. These companies handle sensitive financial data, making them prime targets for cybercriminals. In 2022, the average cost of a data breach in the financial industry worldwide was nearly $6 million. ​And as the industry continues to evolve at a breakneck pace, it increases demand for advanced security protocols. Among these, secrets management and secret rotation are critical components of a comprehensive cybersecurity strategy.

Source: Unsplash

Secrets are used to authenticate access to valuable resources within the digital ecosystem of Fintech companies. However, they also present a lucrative target for cybercriminals. A security breach can lead to substantial financial losses, reputation damage, and regulatory penalties for these companies. If a fintech app or service gets exposed, it could mean that a wealth of confidential information is suddenly public, or a bad actor gains control over the financial assets of the organization.

This article will explore the importance of secrets rotation in depth, especially within the fintech industry.

The Importance of Secrets Management in fintech

Secrets management is a cornerstone of cybersecurity in the fintech industry. It involves the secure storage, access, distribution, and lifecycle management of secrets — access tokens, API keys, connection strings, and tokens — that authenticate access to cloud services and data.

In the fintech landscape, secrets management is a non-negotiable necessity. The industry’s services, such as digital payments, online banking, and investment platforms, are underpinned by digital systems that rely on secrets for secure operations. BCG’s 20th annual analysis of the payments industry estimates that total global payments revenues will reach $3.3 trillion by 2031. It’s about time the fintech industry started taking secrets management seriously. These secrets authenticate systems and applications and authorize access to valuable resources, including customer databases, transaction records, and financial information.

Inappropriate handling of these secrets could expose them to cybercriminals, leading to unauthorized access and data breaches. Cybersecurity best practices dictate that these secrets should never be hardcoded into applications or saved in plaintext. They should be encrypted, securely stored, and access strictly controlled and monitored. Effective secrets management, therefore, plays a pivotal role in enhancing the overall security posture of fintech companies.

As we go into the specifics, it’s important to understand that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach. Different types of secrets necessitate different management strategies. Understanding them helps illuminate the necessity of certain practices, such as regular credential rotation, in maintaining robust security in the fintech sector.

The Need for Regular Credential Rotation in Fintech

Credential rotation in enterprise secret management involves regularly changing secrets to limit the window of opportunity for an attacker to misuse them. In the context of the fintech industry, where the potential damage from cyberattacks is particularly high, regular credential rotation is a critical defense mechanism.

Without regular credential rotation, secrets that have been compromised remain valid and can continue to provide unauthorized access to systems and data. This is particularly concerning given that breaches can often go undetected for extended periods, and it is only by regularly changing secrets that the window during which a compromised secret can be used is significantly reduced.

Credential rotation also plays a role in mitigating the risk of insider threats. By regularly changing secrets, organizations can help ensure that former employees or contractors can no longer access sensitive systems or data. However, this does not come without its challenges. The process requires careful management to ensure systems and applications function smoothly during and after the rotation. The rotation needs to be done in a way that is transparent to users and does not disrupt services.

Vulnerabilities and Cyberattack Exposure in the fintech Industry

Given its data-intensive nature, the fintech sector is a prime target for cybercriminals. The vulnerabilities they exploit can range from simple issues like weak or reused passwords and insecure APIs to more complex threats such as man-in-the-middle attacks, data breaches, and advanced persistent threats (APTs).

Cyberattacks can result in substantial financial losses, reputational damage, and erosion of customer trust, which can be particularly devastating for businesses in the fintech sector where trust and security are of utmost importance. A single breach can cause customers to lose faith in a company’s ability to safeguard their financial information, leading to a decrease in the user base and revenue.

The fintech industry has seen numerous real-world examples of cyberattacks. The dangers are real and ever-present, from large-scale data breaches that expose sensitive customer data to advanced persistent threats that compromise systems over extended periods.

A notable example is the 2017 Equifax data breach, where a vulnerability in a web application framework led to the theft of the personal data of 147 million people. To say that the breach resulted in a significant financial loss and a massive blow to Equifax’s reputation would be an understatement.

Source: Bankrate

In the face of these threats, enterprise secret management and regular credential rotation become critical components of a comprehensive cybersecurity strategy. By effectively managing and regularly rotating secrets, fintech companies can significantly reduce their attack surface and mitigate the risk of cyberattacks.

The Role of Secrets Rotation in Compliance

In the fintech industry, secrets rotation is not just a security best practice — it’s often a compliance requirement. Many industry regulations and standards mandate or recommend regular credential rotation to reduce the risk of unauthorized access.

For instance, the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) is a set of security standards designed to ensure that all companies that accept, process, store, or transmit credit card information maintain a secure environment. And one of the key requirements of the PCI DSS is the implementation of strong access control measures, which includes the regular rotation of secrets. Specifically, Requirement 8.2.4 of the PCI DSS states that entities must change user passwords/passphrases at least once every 90 days. This requirement protects against unauthorized access by ensuring that even if a password/secret is compromised, it will only be valid for a limited period.

Similarly, the New York Department of Financial Services (NYDFS) Cybersecurity Regulation requires covered entities to have policies and procedures for the secure disposal of nonpublic information that is no longer necessary for business operations or other legitimate business purposes.

Source: Unsplash

Non-compliance with regulations such as these can result in hefty fines, not to mention the reputational damage that can come from a publicized failure to comply with industry standards. By implementing regular secrets rotation, fintech companies can enhance their security and ensure they meet regulatory requirements. However, while secrets rotation is a key part of compliance, it’s important to question whether your secrets are truly secure.

Read more about why you might need to reassess how you manage your secrets.

Entro: Tailored Secrets Management for the fintech Sector

Navigating the dynamic landscape of fintech requires a robust secrets management system, now more than ever before. Entro, with its comprehensive enterprise secret management platform, is uniquely positioned to address the specific challenges faced by the fintech industry.


Entro’s platform is designed to provide an all-encompassing solution for secrets management, offering a suite of features that ensure effective management and regular rotation of credentials:


  1. Alerts on Secrets Rotation:
    Entro notifies you of secrets that haven’t been rotated in a long time, and can be prime targets for an attack. You can define how long this period is. Though a vault manages rotation of secrets vaults are not equipped to give you insight into rotation recency, and priority. Entro does this for you by default.


  1. Comprehensive Secrets Discovery:
    Entro’s platform can unearth all secrets across various repositories, including vaults, secrets stores, collaboration tools, and CI/CD pipelines. This provides a holistic view of all secrets in use, ensuring nothing slips through the cracks.


  1. Secrets Enrichment:
    Entro goes beyond mere discovery, adding valuable metadata to each secret. This includes information such as the secret’s owner, creation and last rotation dates, and associated privileges. This enriched context allows for a more nuanced understanding of each secret’s role and importance.


  1. Anomaly Detection:
    Entro’s platform continuously monitors each secret’s usage, raising alerts for any abnormal behavior. This proactive approach allows for swift identification and response to potential threats, minimizing the window of vulnerability.


  1. Misconfiguration Alerts:
    Entro’s platform is designed to identify and alert users of any misconfigurations in vaults, secret stores, or the secrets themselves. This preemptive warning system helps to prevent security vulnerabilities before they can be exploited.


  1. Principle of Least Privilege:
    Entro’s platform can identify excessive privileges and recommend reducing a secret’s permissions. This approach limits the potential damage if a secret is compromised, reinforcing your organization’s security posture.


Based on what we have discussed so far, it’s clear that its rigorous security and compliance needs make secrets management and regular credential rotation more than just best practices — they’re fundamental requirements. In the fintech sector, where the stakes for security and compliance are high, the importance of secrets management and regular credential rotation cannot be understated. These practices are vital for safeguarding systems and data, reducing the risk of cyber threats, and meeting regulatory standards.

Entro, a comprehensive secrets management solution, empowers fintech companies to traverse the intricate cybersecurity terrain confidently. It ensures their secrets are securely managed, fostering trust among customers and partners.

Entro’s platform is a formidable solution to these challenges, including the need to reinvent secret security. By offering a holistic approach to secrets management and facilitating regular credential rotation, Entro enhances the security posture of fintech companies. It aids in regulatory compliance and helps maintain customer and partner trust. As the threat vectors in the present fintech landscape continue to expand and transform, the approach to security and compliance must also adapt. Entro is well-positioned to lead this evolution. Click here to see Entro’s platform in action.

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