Cyber Threats to Look For in Financial Services Sector

The expanding application development landscape and cloud adoption has led to cybersecurity challenges for many organizations. The majority of cyber threats include non-malware and hands-on keyboard activity. The report also showcases three significant areas where businesses face cybersecurity threats: endpoints, cloud workloads, and identity management. One of the significant threats is data leakage.

Financial services and institutions must maintain user data to ensure hassle-free transactions. However, these organizations need guidelines for secure financial transactions. For example, PCI-DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard) is an essential regulation that financial services need to follow. It is a data regulation standard that financial institutions and businesses must follow to secure users’ information, such as debit card credentials.

So, businesses must ensure their cloud service providers have PCI-DSS compliance and other security features to avoid cybersecurity threats. But to choose the right cloud service provider and ensure the security of financial services, you need to know the different cyber threats that are prevalent. Let’s discuss the major cyber threats to any financial business.

Top Cyber Threats Financial Institutions Need To Keep An Eye On

Financial data is sensitive for any organization. Exposure to such information can lead to cyber-attacks with the risk of financial losses for users. Financial services need to improve their security to mitigate such attacks. Organizations must understand the following threats, analyze their current defenses, and create appropriate security policies.

1. Ransomware

Ransomware attacks have been one of the significant cybersecurity threats for financial institutions. Whether it’s banking organizations or insurance companies, ransomware attacks have been the cause of substantial losses in recent years. These attacks involve hackers using backdoor access or vulnerabilities in systems to gain privileges. Further, they lock out users from their systems through encryptions. Organizations under ransomware attacks find their systems down for extended periods if they don’t have a proper backup. The only way financial organizations can call off the attack is to pay the ransom.

2. Third-party integrations

Financial institutions rely on third-party service providers to fulfill digital operations. While many organizations are adopting digital transformation, others still depend on integrating third-party apps and services. This dependency leads to cyber-attack risks, as some third-party services do not have resilient systems. The best way to ensure that your financial organization is secure from such attacks is to use identity and access management.

3. DDOS attack

A distributed denial of service (DDOS) attack is where hackers flood the network with massive traffic to overwhelm the infrastructure and cause disruption. Hackers need multiple compromised computers in the network to direct traffic toward a server to overwhelm it with traffic. Financial institutions with significant operations on the internet can face massive disruptions due to DDOS attacks. There are many ways to protect financial services and banks from DDOS attacks, including

  • Maintaining a program to assess information security risk; this identifies, prioritizes, and analyzes risks to critical systems.
  • Monitor the network behavior, traffic, and cybersecurity policies.
  • Activate response measures through automatic trigger functions.
  • Ensure data access management systems are functional for other computers in the network.

4. Phishing attacks

Phishing attacks are one of the most challenging threats for any financial institution. The reason is simple—these attacks use social engineering practices to access sensitive information. The most common phishing attack that financial organizations face is email phishing. Users are sent emails with specific links, and social engineering strategies motivate them to click on the links. Once a user does this, their devices are exposed to hackers’ malicious code that can access their credentials.

One of the best practices to ensure phishing attacks do not compromise financial information is to create awareness among users of social engineering practices. Financial organizations can also implement technologies like two-factor authentication for increased security.

5. SQL injections

SQL injections are major cybersecurity threats where hackers use malicious SQL codes to manipulate databases and access sensitive information. SQL injections can lead to data theft of users’ financial information, particularly for insurance, credit card, and credit lending companies. There are many types of SQL injection attacks, such as

  • In-band SQLi is a cyber-attack where hackers use the same communication channel to launch attacks. Hackers trigger error messages in the database and use the information in the message to carry out the attack.
  • Blind SQLi is where an attacker sends data packets to the server and observes the responses. It is called a blind attack, as no data is transferred between the server and the attacker. Hackers use the behavioral pattern of server responses to launch an attack.
  • Out-of-band SQLi is a case where attackers can only execute the injection with specific features active. In other words, they can’t use the same channel of communication for attacks.

One of the best practices to ensure that credit card companies and fintech businesses avoid attacks with SQL injections is to develop a high-security database. One way to ensure a high-security database is to leverage cloud-based infrastructure. Cloud services have pre-built cybersecurity features like IAM, SSL certification, and firewalls that ensure data protection. They also provide better compliance with standards like PCI DSS, which is mandatory for financial institutions.

Conclusion

Credit card companies, money lending organizations, fintech businesses, and banks must improve their security measures to protect themselves from cyber threats and ensure data protection. If they do not have proper cybersecurity measures, the risk of exposing user information remains, leading to monetary losses.

One of the most effective ways towards cybersecurity is ensuring compliance across an organization. Most phishing and ransomware attacks take place due to social engineering practices. So, it has become crucial for financial organizations to monitor compliance.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mahesh Hegde

Mahesh Hegde

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