Cyber Risk and Security for Financial Institutions
From market changes to reputation damage, financial institutions have a lot to worry about. However, those concerns pale in comparison to cybersecurity issues. These days, when a bank or other type of financial firm makes the news for falling victim to a data breach, we are no longer surprised. That’s because it seems to happen so often it has lost much of its shock value.
Last year, according to a report by IntSights, banks and financial organizations were the target of 25.7% of all malware attacks. This was more than in any of the 27 other industries the report tracked. With the prevalence of cyberthreats in this sector, it’s no wonder regulation was needed to help curb the attacks.
While cybersecurity is the main issue that should have your attention, what types of threats do you need to be aware of? In this article, we’ll discuss a few of the most prominent cyberthreats affecting financial services organizations and share a few tips on how to protect yourself.
The Top Cyberthreats
As a financial organization, your business has a lot of valuable information in its possession pertaining to customer data and your own sensitive data. This makes you a target for opportunistic cybercriminals. These cybercriminals can deploy a variety of cyberattacks to infiltrate your network and its devices. Here are a few of the most common types of attacks used against financial services firms.
Web Application Attacks: Many organizations rely on web applications for their business operations, with Google Suite being among the most popular. These applications make it easy for employees to share files and collaborate. However, these services are vulnerable to attack because of their ease of accessibility and reliance on user input. These types of attacks may result in unvalidated redirects, or links that trick users into clicking.
Bots: Bots are essentially automated programs designed to complete tasks online. Many businesses in the financial sector make frequent use bots. They’re often used to help enhance customer service. However, there are good bots and there are bad bots. A malicious bot can be programmed to attack your institution directly or indirectly—for example, they can be used to spam email or to crack passwords through brute force.
Ransomware: Ransomware is a type of malware that—once it infects your system—can encrypt your files or even your operating system (OS). This effectively locks you out of your crucial documents or your device itself. It’s called ransomware because often the criminal behind the attack won’t decrypt your system until a ransom is paid. This has become one of the most reported types of attacks on financial firms.
Phishing: Phishing attacks are just about as common as ransomware attacks. These attacks use social engineering to trick your employees into performing an action that allows malware to be installed on your network.
A Few Tips to Stay Safe
To stay protected from these threats, it’s important to follow cybersecurity best practices. Here are a few tips to keep in mind.
- Train: Good cybersecurity hygiene starts with providing your employees with the training they need to spot attack attempts and avoid creating vulnerabilities.
- Perform a Cybersecurity Risk Assessment: A risk assessment is a type of assessment that identifies a threat, then prioritizes it based on the level of risk it poses to business operations. It’s a crucial part of any cybersecurity strategy.
- Update Your Software: Don’t underestimate the importance of keeping your security software up to date. Antivirus and anti-malware software is frequently updated to address and defend against the most recent cyberthreats making the rounds.