Steven Allan

The Biggest Cyber Security Risks for the Financial Services Industry

3 min read. 

Financial services hold a lot of sensitive data which is worth a lot of money on the dark web. That is why financial services are prime targets for data breaches by cyber criminals motivated by monetary gain. This cyber risk trend won’t ease anytime soon and so the sector must maintain resilience against ever-evolving online threats. 

Most Common Cyber Security Threats Against Financial Services. 

Cloud Compromise and Web Application Vulnerabilities 

With the need for staff to move to remote working in 2020, there was a huge adoption of cloud services for storing and sharing data, thus containing a wealth of valuable business data. Phishing emails replicating Microsoft and other cloud providers have been a successful way of tricking people into releasing passwords to cloud-based accounts.  Once these passwords have been obtained, the account can be exploited in a number of different ways including invoice hijacking and exploiting files. Many cloud-based web applications have also had their vulnerabilities exploited if not kept updated to the latest version.

Malware

Malware (malicious software) comes in many forms, from rootkits to ransomware. Malware is designed to cause damage, disruption, and/or provides a route for threat actors to exploit data. Ransomware attacks are particularly notorious as they have had a high success rate in recent months in a variety of industries including financial institutions. Ransomware-as-a-service is a high-value product sold on the dark web and so new families of the malware are continually coming onto the market. This means that it is a cat and mouse game when it comes to endpoint security software.  

Social Engineering

This cyber security risk focuses on ‘hacking the human’ using methods such as phishing to gain sensitive information to compromise accounts, deploy malware, or launch even more sophisticated attacks. Staff working within the financial services sector are prime targets for hackers using social engineering techniques. Therefore creating cyber security cultures to empower staff to defend against phishing emails and other attacks should be at the core of any online security plan. 

Bots

Bots are essentially automated programs designed to complete certain tasks online. They are sometimes referred to as zombies for this reason. A bot designed for a malicious intention can cause damage to data, accounts, and websites. For example, they can be used to launch brute force attacks to crack passwords or to spam email accounts. 

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