What are the Main Cyber Threats to Financial Services?

Reports say that more than 80% of financial service institutions have reported increasing cyberattacks

And that’s not all; the financial sector makes up for 13% of all-time successful cyberattacks and is among the top five most-attacked sectors

In this article, we will be reviewing who’s attacking the financial institutions and their motivation behind it. 

We will also look at the most significant cyber threats to financial services institutions and its consequences.

Who are the Threat Actors?

The financial services are all about money; thus, threat actors seldom break from attacking banks and similar financial institutions. 

Therefore, considering the statistics and a huge timeline of cyberattacks on financial institutions, it’ll make much more sense if they start focusing on ‘when will they be attacked’ instead of ‘if they are a target.’

Cyber threats to financial services

Cybercriminals, Insiders, And Fraudsters

Motivation: These attackers are only seeking money, more money, and even more money.

Capabilities: Mostly custom tools; many are simple but effective (social engineering).

Goals: Usually monetary and financial gains (fraudulent transfers, cash and credential theft).

Cyber threats to financial services

Hackers And
Hacktivists

Motivation: Curiosity, attention, vengeance, social justice, and provocation.

Capabilities:  They are typically low. Off-the-shelf tools, basic scripts, or web resources.

Goals: Low-impact damage and disruption of services: data leaks, DDoS, defamation.

Cyber threats to financial services

State-Based Actors And Spies

Motivation: Nationalism, commendation for defense or offense against state adversaries.

Capabilities: Persistent adversaries with resources to try a variety of attack vectors.

Goals: Destruction and damage (data corruption, espionage, targeted physical damage).

How Can Financial Services Organizations Mitigate Human Risk?

See our Financial Services page to check security awareness solutions tailored to the industry, as well as the benefits of promoting long-lasting good cyber behaviors that reduce human risk inside your organization.  

Cyber Threats to Financial Services

From phishing to malware injection, financial institutions suffer a lot of cyber damage. Let’s look at the top five cyber threats that always shadow financial services:

Phishing Attacks

Phishing is a foundational tactic used by cybercriminals, and it continues to be one of the most effective attack routes. It’s usually used with social engineering techniques to harvest data from victims. 

It dupes them into thinking the email they got is real (often from a bank or government agency), and they need to act on it. It usually involves the victim clicking on a link or attachment that contains malware, allowing the attacker to gain access to their data and systems.

Ransomware Attacks

Ransomware, a virus that encrypts files and keeps them hostage until the victim agrees to pay a ransom, has grown in popularity and sophistication over the last two years. 

Typically, attackers demand that their victims pay the ransom within a specific time, or the encrypted data will be made public. The attacker may propose a way for the victim to recover access to the system or data if the victim pays. These attacks have always been opportunistic, but they are getting more focused.

Credential Theft

Criminals can acquire access to a company’s systems or networks with just one stolen credential, launch a more comprehensive attack, transfer money to money laundering and insurance scams, and even disseminate dangerous links among other employees. 

Credential theft is a widespread issue that impacts virtually every modern industry and costs the global economy millions of dollars each year.

Banking Trojans

Banking trojans are computer programs that rely on form-grabbing, code injection, and particular stealer modules dropped in the infected machine to steal information stored or processed through online banking services. 

They then look for and retrieve sensitive data that the crooks can use to make money. These modules may appear legitimate software pieces to persuade people to install them.

Distributed Denial Of Service (DDoS) Attacks

Cybercriminals flood and crash a target website by overwhelming it with traffic in this attack. Attackers use various compromised computer systems, including computers and other network-connected devices, to attack traffic sources. 

DDoS-for-hire services have recently made off-the-shelf toolkits available to attackers who would not otherwise have had access to such an attack vector.

The Bottom Line

As a bank or financial institution, you must identify strategies to limit cyber security threats while providing your consumers with accessible, technologically sophisticated solutions. Your top priority should be cybersecurity awareness and training to mitigate human risk. 

If you want to know more about mitigating human-based threats, visit our Financial Services page

On that particular page, we offer resources to help you make informed decisions about how to pick and choose Security Awareness solutions that will mitigate human risk inside your organization. 

Cyber threats to financial services