The financial services industry (banks, credit unions, insurance, mortgage companies, pension and mutual funds, venture capital, cryptocurrency exchanges, and other organizations that manage the flow of money) are under constant attack by those who want direct access to money. As they move become more connected online, the speed and impact of attacks against them has increased. The nature of the attacks has also changed. Cyber criminals steal employee, customer and business data and monitize this insider information, placing financial institutions at risk of losing money and facing regulatory penalties. Financial institutions must overcome some unique challenges in order to security their networks against cyber threats; these include:
Financial institutions are fighting a battle on many fronts - to remain competitive, they are introducing new online products and moving into new geographic territories directly or by mergers and acquisitions. As a result, they must comply with new laws and regulations while ensuring the flexibility of IT to support secure operations. The extended reach has caused the Bank of Canada to warn that Canada’s FIs have reached a point of interconnectedness that could allow a cyber attack to rapidly spread through the national financial system, leading to a prolonged service interruption. Finally, a significant element of the extended operations is third party risk. As the network extends to share data with partners, vendors, and other third parties, financial institutions are losing their ability to ensure the security of their data.
Financial institutions rely on proven legacy systems and applications to deliver services to the clients and connect with partners. At the same time, they must deal with new and emerging technologies, especially: Secure cloud-based architectures and services, Network architectures that must be resilient against attack, including SWIFT transaction, manipulation, denial of service and ransomware/APT threats against the main network and remote points such as ATMs and PoS terminals, Online services delivered across a variety of platforms, and Mobile devices and applications. At the same time, financial institutions must assume that their security may be compromised at some point, and they must be prepared to mount a rapid and effective response to a breach.
Financial institutions have dealt with insider threats such as employee theft or misuse of data for a long time; however, these attackers are taking advantage of the Internet to implement faster and more effective attacks. The impact of their attacks is matched by the difficulty in gathering evidence and prosecuting the individuals concerned. FIs also have to deal with a new type of insider threat - the emergence of “shadow IT”. It is trivial for remote users to employ third party IT services such a cloud-based applications; unfortunately, these solutions may lack the security controls of the remainder of the network, and put sensitive data at risk.
DigitalDefence has in-depth knowledge and understanding of the Financial sector; we've been engaged by some of the largest financial institutions across the globe. Recently, we've provided consulting services to international financial institutions, credit unions, investment funds, accounting and financial regulatory firms, and online cryptocurrency exchanges.
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