Cybersecurity attacks are evolving, getting more sophisticated, more frequent, and spreading worldwide. It seems like not a day is passed without an organization suffering a data breach or a customer of a bank losing money from the account through stolen credentials.
While most industries worldwide are affected by the imminent peril of cybersecurity threats, the banking industry is one of the prime targets. After all, the sector deals with what the attackers want the most, ‘money and personal information’.
Cyberattacks: The Roaring Trade
Cyberattacks on financial firms have become a flourishing money-making business for cybercriminals. As per the report from a cybersecurity firm’s research, cyberattacks against banks spiked by a massive 238% from the beginning of February to the end of April 2020.
In 2017, financial firms saw the highest volume of cybersecurity attacks over any other industry. This threat landscape is widening as it is getting more sophisticated and diverse. The annual cost of cyberattacks in the banking industry has reached $18.3 million per enterprise.
We have witnessed cybersecurity attacks making headlines for several years. Some of the most headline-making cyberattacks have been the DDoS attacks. These attacks flood customer-facing bank websites with traffic and take them offline or attacks on the Swift based money transfer systems, among others.
We have also witnessed big banks suffer these attacks over a decade. Recently, hackers stole $81 million from the Central Bank of Bangladesh. In fact, last month, a powerful DDoS attack struck Hungarian banks and telecom services. It was the most powerful and one of the biggest cyberattacks Hungary had ever encountered.
As fast as the organizations are adopting new-age technologies, hackers are constantly finding ways to penetrate and target exploitable security vulnerabilities. Thus, making it evident that cybersecurity attacks are increasing rapidly every passing year.
A Strong Barricade For The Assets
Banks not only store money but also gather network activities and personal information of the customers. Information that includes names, phone numbers, addresses, email addresses, and dates of birth. This data has inherent value and can be used for other malicious activities such as identity theft, which can often lead to more disastrous and grievous consequences.
In today’s world, cybercriminals are getting advanced with modern technologies. They develop custom-built malicious code that is not necessarily picked up routinely by antivirus protection. So it is very important for the sector to address the modern times demand.
The banking industry needs to realize the assets they have in store and what mechanisms might be used by attackers to get into their organization. They need to identify the weak points and the measures needed to strengthen the IT infrastructure, based on the risk assessment to defend against those potential threats.
It is high time to shift from passive cybersecurity to active cybersecurity, which is switching from what is largely reactive to embracing the white hacker to test the strength of IT infrastructure security. Regardless of how sophisticated the attack is, it mostly starts by trying to trick the employees into doing something that jeopardizes the system.
Therefore, the industry should not only focus on the systems but also get the employees to take the measurements to defend the loophole. Making the employees understand the approaches that these attackers take and what can be done to minimize the exposure to that risk.
According to a report by Deloitte India, cybersecurity attacks are getting complex each passing day and to prevent these threats banks will also need to hire Chief Risk Officers. The officers who are experienced in taking responsibility and lead the firm with military-level cybersecurity solutions to identify the modern sophisticated cyberattacks.
Having a CRO (Chief Risk Officers) will help the firm in managing the operations to prevent cybersecurity threats. It can also fill the responsibilities, including identifying, evaluating, reporting the threats and monitoring the external and internal cyber threats to the firm.
Methodology For Mitigating The Threat
It’s about time for financial firms or any industry to stop relying on the obsolete IT infrastructure. Instead, they should adopt cybersecurity measures that are more complex and sophisticated than ever before to prevent prevailing and emerging cyber threats.
Here are some basic steps the financial firms can implement to minimize the risk of a cyberattack:
- Identify and classify the assets- It is important to identify and categorize the information assets, based on its level of sensitivity, value, and criticality to the bank. Information assets including various categories of data that are highly-restricted, confidential, internal use, and the public.
- Risk assessment- It is advisable for every bank to prepare a cybersecurity risk assessment, and implement a cybersecurity protection plan to address those threats identified in the risk assessment procedure. This helps the organization to mitigate the factors that cause disruption in running a smooth business operation.
- Identify threats and vulnerabilities– Threat and vulnerability can be subjected to a person, an organization, weaknesses in the system or the network. So it is not a necessity but mandatory for the organization to identify these threats and vulnerabilities through penetration testing in order to patch the weaknesses that can be exploited to gain access and affect the system.
- Analyze risk- As mentioned earlier, the bank has the assets that the hackers sought for. So, analyzing the risk to these assets based on the impact or criticality is a way to go for an organization. The process should occur on a regular basis to identify any new potential threats.
- Educate employees- All employees should be aware of the threats and consequences of ignoring it. For instance, they should be aware of the hazard by clicking a malicious link or opening an attachment from an unknown person. So, it is crucial to provide cybersecurity awareness training for the employees with tools that helps in raising awareness to prevent cyberattacks. It is particularly important because most of the cyber incidents are the result of “human error.”