How Testing can save Financial Applications from the next HACK

How Testing can save Financial Applications from the next HACK

On October 20, 2016, The Economic Times (Indian business daily) reported that ‘3.2 million debit cards may have been compromised in India’ as a result of a security breach. The breach allegedly originated in Hitachi Payment Services that enabled fraudsters to steal information and consequently funds. Startling incidents like these further establish the need for testing in the Financial/Banking sector.

Experts have also identified malware that can particularly infect the point-of-sale (PoS) machines, promising higher rate of success to the hackers. Considering the fact that more number of people tend to shop than go to the ATM. A similar retail breach was reported in 2013 in the US at the retail chain Target.

In 2013, data from up to 40 million credit and debit cards of shoppers at Target got stolen by hackers. This happened at the peak of the holiday shopping season. Financial Analysts and market research firms have used this data to decipher the levels at which the security of financial applications is compromised.

This further emphasizes the urgency to build a comprehensive Testing strategy for the financial/banking sector. Moreover, it is important to evaluate the overall strategy by considering the current day challenges and probing malware.

What does a financial software facilitate and why is it complex?

Financial software/applications are complex and are built on the lines of financial information management. The software can be executed as an independent software or can be embedded into a financial information system (IS). Generally, a financial software incorporates all aspects of personal or business finance to offer multiple features – basic financial data management, transactions, budget management, personal/corporate account management, and assets management.

Additionally, a Financial App offers Multi-tier functionality to power numerous concurrent user sessions. For instance, a bank application operates with many other applications, namely, Bill Pay utility, trading accounts and business workflows to support various transactions and interconnected activities.

It involves Batch Processing and Real-Time processing, where the transaction processor can be a large capacity mainframe or a legacy system carrying out trillions of transactions per second. Resulting in processes that make the overall financial applications complex.

Summing up, following are the characteristics that enable a robust Testing strategy:

  • Multi-layered functionality to manage concurrent user sessions
  • Large scale integration for multiple activities
  • Real Time and Batch processing
  • Higher rate of transactions per second
  • Detailed reporting to track each activity
  • Strict auditing to handle customer issues
  • Disaster Management mechanism/robust back-up plan
  • Extensive storage system

Multi-layered interactions of a Banking application may involve:

  • End users interacting with the Web Server via a browser
  • Middle tier software that authenticates the input and output for Web Server
  • Database that stores data and processes
  • Transaction Processor to conduct several transactions per second

What are the essentials to consider while testing financial/banking applications?

Security Testing

With reference to customer/user experience and secure interface, security testing ranks high. Traditionally, security testing is considered towards the end of the testing cycle. However, with new-age challenges and malware infecting the financial domain, Security testing has come to the forefront.

With millions of transactions happening every second, stability and robustness of the financial app is absolutely critical. A single security breach can lead to long-term impact on the overall sector, losing out on credibility of the overall system.

Additionally, integration with third-party applications, emerging digital commerce platforms, complex workflows, and growing nexus between Social Media and mobile platforms is making financial apps vulnerable to threats from various sources and various ways.

So, protection of financial data from malicious attacks is imperative to prevent loss of credibility and recurring financial loss. Despite rising number of security boosting products in the market, there are growing incidents of security breaches. Security testing helps make your applications robust and secure for the market challenges. It helps fight the rising and emerging vulnerabilities in the environment.

Security Testing is one of the major steps in the overall Application Testing Cycle. It ensures that the application complies with Federal and Industry standards and gets rid of web vulnerabilities that can expose critical data to a hacker or malicious attacker.

Performance Testing

What if the mobile banking application installed on your device refuses to integrate with your insurance provider, resulting in failure and delay in premium payment? Yes, this could be disappointing and inconvenient for a user.

This drives the need for performance testing applications to boost and ensure customer satisfaction. With financial services institutions constantly expanding across segments and markets, it is important to ensure that the application used by the end customer can take the load and ensure the desired outcome.

Performance Testing/Engineering can help predict, test, and handle loads during critical situations to avoid breakdowns. Further it ensures performance, scalability, resilience, and reliability of the application. Today, financial institutions are venturing in the marketplace with complex application that requires rapid application development cycles.

At the same time, it is important to ensure that the quality of the application is not compromised. Performance Testing brings all this together:

  • It helps monitor and report activities
  • Boosts productivity
  • Brings down the costs resulting from defects
  • Cuts down-time and ensures customer satisfaction

Functional Testing

Functional testing involves Application testing, System integration testing, Regression testing, and User Acceptance Testing. Banking software/applications deal with sensitive financial data and does complex calculations in the background that involve money transfers and highly sensitive data. So, it is important to execute end-to-end functional testing of the application.

What does Functional Testing of banking/financial applications entail?

  • Test cases: This involves listing down the functional requirements, where every business scenario involves a few positive and negative test cases.
  • Verification of test cases: This involves verification of the elaborated test cases in line with the business scenarios, ensuring that every business scenario is covered.
  • Executing functional tests: The tests are involved with basic knowledge of finances and accounting, where either manual or automated testing is put to work.

At Gallop, we understand that Security of your applications is critical for your business and above all how critical it is for the overall financial services sector. One of the top automobile financing firms in the US partnered with Gallop’s Security Testing services to create hack-proof applications.

The core challenge and requirement of the client was to keep the applications secure. The client reached out to Gallop for penetration testing of their flagship web application. One of the major challenges was manual execution of security tests by complying with stringent timelines and regulations.

Focusing on the client’s business objective, Gallop experts executed extensive security assessment tests for the web application to identify security loopholes and vulnerabilities. Apart from the other important aspects of Security Testing, the team implemented custom execution methodology based on the application’s technology and business logic to accelerate manual security testing.

Apart from the fact that the client’s business objective was served, it saved the brand from collateral damage and fixed some major vulnerability. A thorough Security testing strategy further instilled added confidence amongst the end users.

Gallop team has worked with acclaimed players in the sector and understands its intrinsic challenges. Our unique Managed Security Testing Services model combines the deep understanding of industry best practices and decade long expertise in software testing services delivery. We collaborate with businesses in North America to identify vulnerabilities and fix them way ahead in the application test cycle.

With the world economy going through phases of evolution, challenges faced by the banking/financial services sector are endless. Connect with Gallop experts to build a comprehensive testing strategy to make your financial applications secure and reach out to your end users with confidence.

The opinions expressed in this blog are author's and don't necessarily represent Gallop's positions, strategies or opinions.

Testing Banking & Financial Applications: Challenges, Trends, & Best Practices

Testing Banking & Financial Applications: Challenges, Trends, & Best Practices

“The most significant trend of 2016 will be the ‘platformification’ of banking” ~ Cornerstone Advisors

Banking and Financial Services industry has been a forerunner in adapting and scaling up to the changes as and when they happen in the IT world. It is, thus, no surprise that Digital Transformation has been indicated by the upcoming trends and digital initiatives like Mobile Wallets, P2P transfers, Ping Pay, Omni Channel Banking etc. to be is the future of BFSI Industry. As per Juniper Research, by 2017, more than 1B mobile subscribers (15% of global mobile subscribers) will be using mobile banking.

The Banking domain is replete with ever changing and cutting edge technology, with intricate functionalities intertwined into the applications. Being at the center of any commercial activity, it has a huge functional framework spread across Cards and Payment Gateways, Delivery Channels, Specialised service offerings such as Corporate Banking, Centralised Banking, etc.

Secure and smooth support for transactions, ease of access, and performance are vital for any banking application to succeed.

Challenges and Trends in the Banking Sector

  • Omni-channel Banking – With almost everyone getting hooked to the concept of anytime, anywhere banking, financial houses are trying to launch digital only banks – that is, banks without branches. Offering end-to-end functionality of a regular bank on the minimal and highly diverse front-end of a mobile poses a huge challenge.
  • Web Security, Regulatory & Compliance – Banking portals usually are major targets for hacking and fraudulent activities and thereby penetration testing poses a significant challenge. Regulation of Banks became even more critical after the 2008 Banking Crisis as improper functioning of a Bank has a big, negative impact on regular life. Today, banking institutions need to comply with international security standards such as BASEL III or BCBS 239 (addresses the Banking systemic risk and the operational risks of the banks), FATCA and AML (keep vigil on tax evasion and other illegal monetary transactions), SEPA (takes care of cross border payment regulation), and PCI DSS make testing of financial applications very important – and very challenging.
  • Performance Failures – Performance failures in banking portals can have a serious effect on daily life. Meeting the required performance levels involves taking into consideration the infrastructure, connectivity, and integration with the backend. The transaction spikes must be monitored at regular intervals and Stress and Load tests must also be regularly performed to ensure support for multiple transactions at any given point in time.

Some other IT trends already showing their impact and presence in the field of finance are Testing Center Of Excellence (TCOE), big data analytics, cloud, and virtualization. Even though these are not very pocket-friendly technologies to be maintained, they are here to stay and will continue to grow.

Additionally, some other commonly faced challenges in testing Internet Banking are:

  • Variety in internet connections and browsers
  • Usage paths
  • Usability testing
  • Security and Performance testing

And then there are specific challenges in Testing Mobile Banking Apps

  • Broad range of devices
  • Configuration and design vulnerabilities
  • Security Testing
  • Time to Market

Best Practices

A few best practices that will help manage the aforesaid challenges in testing banking applications are:

  • A clearly defined, endtoend testing methodology
  • Performing overall testing that encompasses all the requirements and workflows
  • Testing the application for performance, security, and functionality
  • Additional testing of the application for the UI, UX, integrity of Data, and support for multiple and concurrent users

Trying to implement the above mentioned practices require large investments both in terms of expenses and efforts, and a trusted partner can help banks save a lot of money and time in addition to ensuring business continuity and protection.

The team at Gallop Solutions specializes in providing testing solutions to the banking and financial services sector. Register for an informative and thought provoking webinar on Apr 13, 11:00 AM EST to learn how you can benefit from the latest test strategies that are being laid out to help you succeed in the digital age to provide world class experience to Mobile Banking customers.


The opinions expressed in this blog are author's and don't necessarily represent Gallop's positions, strategies or opinions.