“An FSP must establish, maintain and update on a
regular basis a competence register in which all
qualifications, successfully completed regulatory
examinations, product specific training, class of
business training and CPD of the FSP, its key
individuals and representatives are recorded.”

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Risk Management

Lets talk about Security

An essential element of information security is the reliable identification and authentication of those accessing the information. Every manner of application, data and network security could be implemented, but if we were not able to reliably identify those accessing the data, we could not achieve the high standard of security that we set for our services. For this reason, we place great emphasis on user authentication. 

To begin with, users must be registered using a validated email account, which is associated with an identified organization. No guest or anonymous access to the system is permitted. In addition, numerous techniques are employed to detect and prevent unauthorized account access, such as complex password enforcement, soft and hard account lockout triggered by repeated unsuccessful login attempts, and the logging and continuous monitoring of account probing and other anomalous behavior. Once a user is authenticated, continued access to the system is dependent upon the presence of a set of security tokens exchanged with the client during the authentication process. These tokens, or session identifiers, are protected using advanced web security mechanisms, including the use of cryptographically strong pseudo-random number generators and session hijacking/fixation countermeasures. 

All access to our platform, whether pre- or post-authentication, is permitted only over connections that are secured with Secure Sockets Layer (SSL). Any connection attempt that is not using SSL will be refused. In this way, organizations and users can be assured that all information passed between the platform and the user’s browser or mobile app will be safe from would-be eavesdroppers and potential man-in-the middle attacks that rely upon an initial HTTP (unsecured) connection.

Although protecting the front door is essential, if the networks and systems that host a service are not themselves secure, the service might still be vulnerable. This, of course, is the reason that our platform is built upon a foundation of network, host and physical security.  Web, application and database servers supporting FSP4.1 reside within highly secured worldwide datacenters. Physical access to these datacenters is continuously monitored and restricted to authorized personnel only. The servers themselves are “hardened” to baseline secure configuration standards, and are dedicated to running only those services required to support FSP4.1. Platform policy requires that servers remain up-to-date with the latest security patches, and undergo periodic reassessment through both internal and independent auditing and penetration testing. Network access to the systems hosting FSP4.1 is strictly controlled through firewalls and other network security devices designed to detect and respond to various attacks, including but not limited to denial-of-service (DoS) attacks originating from the Internet. Backend servers and services are never directly accessible to external systems or personnel. Furthermore, multiple levels of host and network security are employed to ensure that only authorized access is permitted between backend systems, effectively containing any potential internally-leveraged attacks. Access to and activity on systems is centrally logged and continuously monitored for anomalous patterns or behavior.

Once your information has been entered into the FSP4.1 platform, it is secured with multiple levels of encryption and access controls. The platform is designed to securely allow the efficient sharing of information in a manner that is flexible yet highly visible and easily managed. Data resides in workspaces, which are associated with specific teams. Only those users explicitly granted access to your information may view or modify it. The design of the system requires that every access request pass through an authorization subsystem that verifies the access rights of the user before allowing the request to proceed. Unlike some data management systems, FSP4.1 does not include the concept of “root” or “superuser” access. This helps to ensure the privacy of your information, even against inadvertent or other internal exposure. Sensitive configuration information, passwords and keys are secured using the latest in cryptographic technology. The Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) is used with a 256-bit key to encrypt sensitive information that must later be available to authorized users in plaintext form. Passwords are secured through a uniquely salted, one-way (irreversible) password hashing mechanism that ensures protection against exposure even to internal personnel with access to the storage systems and/or encryption keys. Every file uploaded to FSP4.1 is encrypted with AES256 before being transferred to an Amazon Web Services (AWS) S3 repository. Beyond the security safeguards implemented within AWS , the encryption mechanism ensures the privacy of file content. Database backups are encrypted in the same manner as uploaded files.

In addition to the security measures described, the software services that comprise FSP4.1 are developed using processes that guarantee the integration of security assurance techniques at every stage of the development and deployment lifecycle. Every significant design and architectural decision must undergo a review process known as “threat modeling,” in which foreseeable threats to the system are evaluated and measured in light of the proposed design/architectural features. Additionally, code is required to be assessed for security flaws via static analysis, while new and updated systems must be scanned and tested for security weaknesses using industry-leading manual and automated application vulnerability assessment tools.

All the protection measures in the world will prove meaningless if you cannot access your information or systems when needed. Thus, one of our top priorities in security by design is availability. With FSP4.1, the continued availability of your information is achieved in several ways. First, the datacenters that hosts our services incorporate system redundancy throughout in order to ensure resiliency in the face of outages due to failure or attack. Additionally, for the purposes of scalability and reliability, load balancers transparently distribute incoming requests among multiple servers. As previously mentioned above, security devices are also in place in every datacenter to implement countermeasures to denial-of-service (DoS) attacks. To prevent unintended destruction or corruption of information, systems are backed up hourly and daily, with backups being encrypted and stored at a secure off-site location. Additionally, the FSP4.1 interface includes a protection mechanism that requires explicit user acknowledgement before executing any record deletion requests.

FORWARD takes the privacy, security and protection of your data very seriously. We have built our services around this priority. Our security policies and controls align with industry standards, and we review them regularly to ensure continued compliance. 

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