In today’s world of privacy risks, data breaches, and hacking attempts, one must wonder whether new threats will ever stop emerging. Companies are running to protect their systems from resourceful hackers who will stop at nothing.
Financial institutions are among the most popular targets for malicious actors. However, to be able to fight off the threat, you first have to familiarize yourself with it. Let’s discuss and analyze the most common cybersecurity threats found in the finance sector and how to mitigate them.
- DDoS Attacks
DDoS (Distributed-denial-of-service) is an attempt to disrupt website network and traffic. Malicious actors flood the servers with plenty of requests, which would overload the system and potentially shut it down. This can have devastating consequences for the company, especially to financial institutions. Today, most financial transactions are performed online. Imagine if hackers overloaded your bank’s servers, deeming them entirely unusable for customers. That would cause immense dissatisfaction and could harm the bank’s reputation.
In recent years, phishing has become a popular subject of discussion in the cybersecurity community. Phishing is a form of tricking the victim into entering login credentials on fake websites, opening a link or downloading usually infected files. The number of phishing attacks is exponentially growing, partially because it’s among the easiest forms of attacks. A lot of recent phishing attempts were aimed at financial institutions. According to the Phishing and Email Fraud Statistics by Retruster, phishing was responsible for over 90% of cyberattacks in 2019. A phishing incident would have terrible consequences for the financial institution. Not only would it harm their reputation, but it would also bring in some hefty GDPR fines.
Like phishing, ransomware is among the most popular forms of cyberattacks. Ransomware is a form of malicious software designed to block access to one’s files and computer. Then, hackers usually ask for a ransom fee so the user would be able to retrieve their files – hence the name. What’s quite worrying about ransomware is that the financial industry is among the most targeted sectors for these types of attacks. If the company’s files aren’t backed up properly, that could have terrible consequences for their business.
- Biometrics and Multi-Factor Authentication
Although it might seem like biometric and multi-factor authentication are impenetrable, that is not the case. Like various security solutions advance in strength and scope, cybercriminals developing new tools and methods to crack them. For example, there were instances where hackers managed to bypass OTPs (one-time-passcode), used CCTV to record phone PIN codes, and used SIM swapping to deal with 2-FA. Although this technology is safe, it is far from being perfect.
- Third-Party Contractors
Most financial institutions, or any other type of business for that matter, usually have to sign contracts with third-party service providers. This is a common practice around the world because a single company can’t take care of all the tasks in-house. However, when expanding your collaborative efforts, you’re also putting a lot of trust into contractors. If they don’t have a proper cybersecurity infrastructure in place, they risk having your information and data stolen. This is why all companies must screen their third-party contractors extensively before signing any contracts.
How to Protect Your Organization From These Threats
Although there isn’t a simple solution that would completely mitigate these threats, you can take certain precautionary measures to ensure maximum security. This entails using various cybersecurity software solutions that will help with preventing potential attacks. The key to handling these threats is to avoid them, not remedy them. That is why your company has to invest time and money into creating a reliable cybersecurity infrastructure. Here are some measures you should consider implementing:
- VPN – VPN stands for Virtual Private Network, and it acts as a shield between the user and the internet. For example, if I’d like to hide my IP and my online activities, I would use a VPN. It masks your IP address and protects from cybercriminals. This tool is especially useful now when a large number of employees are forced to work from home. Moreover, it ensures that the employees aren’t irresponsible with their company computers.
- Employee education – Human error is among the leading causes of cyberattacks. Most of the threats mentioned above, such as phishing and ransomware, are successful because someone fell for them. If the employee in question were educated on the matter, they would be able to recognize the red flags and act accordingly. Your company should consider investing in extensive cybersecurity training for all employees, not just in the IT sector.