Dave's Blog

Cybersecurity remains top concern for banks, and with good reason

April 9, 2021

You only need to take a cursory glance at the latest headlines to see that cyber attacks on the banking and finance sector have continued apace. As the world prepares itself to adopt a more hybrid approach to working and people start to move around and travel in greater numbers, the pressure on banks to combat the relentless barrage of threats will grow.

We have learnt a great deal over the past year about how quickly and relentlessly cyber criminals will pursue their quarry, but it is still sobering to read in a recent bulletin from theBank for International Settlements, that the financial sector was hit more often by cyberattacks than most other sectors since the pandemic started. Dataon attacks from Advisen, showed that there was a strong link between the prevalence of working from home arrangements and the incidence of cyber attacks between the end of February and June 2020.

The bulletin also showed that payment firms, insurers and credit unions had been especially affected. A survey among financial institutions by the Financial Services Information Sharing andAnalysis Center found a substantial rise in phishing, suspicious scanning and malicious activity against webpages for WFH staff to access the network.

It’s no surprise then, that the banking community has cybersecurity heading up the agenda. According to the Sixth Annual Bank Survey by the Conference of StateBank Supervisors, 70% of those surveyed, ranked cybersecurity as their top concern. A report from Accenture and the Ponemon Institute Unlocking the Value ofImproved Cybersecurity Protection, claims that the cost of cyberattacks is highest in the banking industry, reaching $18.3 million annually per company.

The nature of the pandemic, which has seen vast populations confined to their homes, has also encouraged the digital sharing of private information. An increase in email, text, instant messaging, and video calls, for example, has served to expand the attack vectors and hackers are taking advantage. For the banking community there has been a sharp rise in key-logging and screen-scraping malware which has resulted in infiltration of private customer data such as log-ins and passwords as they attempt to access private bank accounts.

The finance community is readying itself for new risks as we come out of lockdown. An example of this is the re-emergence in recent months of whaling– a phishing attack aimed specifically at the most senior executives. Robert Masse, a partner at Deloitte’s was quoted in UKTN saying: “Whaling will become more prominent with cyber criminals able to take personal information shared online to build convincing lures leading to business email compromise fraud.”

It is incumbent on banks to identify and implement the best possible solutions to protect their own systems, employee and customer interactions and data. But that’s not all. They also need to ensure they are compliant with regulations such as the FFIEC and international laws. The battle against cyber criminals will be hard in the year ahead, so building a strong defence must be a priority.

 

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