Cyber Threats To Financial Services
The financial sector is one of the most attacked industries in terms of cyber, due to the significant amount of data and sensitive assets it handles.
In recent years, the frequency and severity of cyber attacks on financial institutions have continued to increase, resulting in significant financial losses, reputational damage, and regulatory fines. In 2022 alone, more than 254 million personal files were leaked due to cyber breaches of financial institutions, and companies in the financial sector around the globe experienced more than 566 successful cyber attacks.
So what are the most common cyber threats to the financial sector, and how can organizations protect themselves against these threats?
Phishing attacks remain one of the most common and effective cyber threats to the financial sector. These attacks are designed to trick people into revealing sensitive information, such as passwords or financial data, by impersonating a trusted source or using social engineering tactics. In the financial sector, phishing attacks often target bank customers, employees, or managers in an attempt to gain access to their accounts or steal sensitive information.
To reduce the risk of phishing attacks, financial institutions should implement security awareness training programs for employees and customers, use multi-factor authentication, and deploy anti-phishing tools such as email filters and web filters.
Ransomware attacks have become increasingly common in recent years, with financial institutions being a key target due to the potential for high financial gain – 66% of the organizations in the study were affected by ransomware in 2021, an increase from 37% in 2020.
In a ransom attack, hackers encrypt the organization’s data and demand payment in exchange for releasing the information. Ransomware attacks can cause significant financial losses, downtime, and damage to reputation. Common modes of operation of a ransomware virus are:
Encryption – software that locates files that seem important to the user – texts, documents, images, PDFs, and more. It encrypts the information, thus preventing access to it, but you will still be able to use your device. When a victim is a private person, the ransom usually amounts to several hundred dollars, and the requirement includes transferring the payment within 72 hours, otherwise, the information is permanently deleted.
Locking – in this case, the attack is relatively simple, the software locks the entire device, and the ransom note appears on the screen.
Computer locked due to ransomware virus
Scareware – perhaps the most cynical of them all, this attack pretends to be software that scans for computer problems and informs us of serious faults that must be dealt with immediately. The software does not allow you to use the computer until approval is given to solve the problems, for a fee of course. The messages that appear that warn about the detection of faults imitate legitimate anti-virus software, and give the impression of a reliable source by providing information about IP addresses and geographic locations, or using the names of well-known and reliable companies.
DoxWare – the leaked software, as its name suggests, threatens to leak the stored information to sites on the Dark Web or to leak sites designed for leaking personal information.
To protect against ransomware attacks, financial institutions need to implement backup and recovery systems, perform regular vulnerability assessments, and deploy anti-malware solutions that can detect and block ransomware threats.
Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks are a common tactic used by cybercriminals to disrupt the operations of financial institutions. In a DDoS attack, hackers flood servers with traffic, making an application network inaccessible to legitimate users. DDoS attacks can cause significant financial losses, as well as damage the reputation of the targeted organization.
To reduce the risk of DDoS attacks, financial institutions should implement DDoS mitigation solutions such as traffic scrubbing services, firewalls, and intrusion prevention systems. It is also important to have a response plan in place to quickly identify and mitigate any DDoS attacks that occur.
Employees and suppliers are the number one cause of information security breaches, according to a Haystax survey, the majority of cyber professionals (56%) say that insider threats are on the rise.
Users with access to sensitive information are considered the greatest threat (60%), consultants and contractors in second place (57%) followed by employees with a normal level of access (51%).
Insider threats pose a significant risk to financial institutions, as employees and contractors have access to sensitive information and assets. Insider threats can include intentional or accidental actions that result in data breaches, financial fraud, or other types of cyber incidents.
To reduce the risk of insider threats, financial institutions should implement strict access controls, conduct background checks on employees and contractors, and monitor user activity to detect any suspicious or malicious behavior. It is also important to have an incident response plan that describes the steps to be taken in the event of an insider threat.
Third-party vendors and service providers can also pose a significant cyber risk to financial institutions. These providers often have access to sensitive data and systems, making them a prime target for cybercriminals. In addition, third-party providers may have weaker security controls than the financial institution itself, which may make them a weak link in the security chain.
To mitigate the risk of third-party risk, financial institutions should perform due diligence on third-party vendors, including security assessments and vulnerability scans. Contracts with third-party vendors should also include security requirements and controls, and vendor security should be monitored on an ongoing basis.
In conclusion, the financial sector is a major target for cyber attacks due to the significant amount of data and sensitive assets it handles. By understanding the most common cyber threats to the financial sector and implementing the appropriate security controls, financial institutions can mitigate these risks and protect themselves from cyber incidents.