How Are Banks Combating the Rise in Cyber Attacks?

January 28 , 2021

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The evolution of technology has brought efficiency and convenience in how people use and store money. Consumers can pay for just about any good or service with the tap of a phone, swipe of a card, or even recognition of your face. 

It’s the age of cloud banking. Bank products and services have become widely accessible over the internet out of necessity. These innovations have enabled efficiencies in our day-to-day lives, while also heightening the risks of cyber attacks.

Why are cyber attacks dangerous to financial institutions?

Cyber attacks are digital assaults against computers, networks, and/or databases. They can be done to disable computers remotely, steal data, or hack a system’s operations, among other things. Banks are particularly susceptible to cyber attacks. 

According to research from the Boston Consulting Group, financial institutions are 300 times more likely to suffer from cyber attacks than organizations from other sectors. This underscores the importance of prioritizing a strategy, both defensively and offensively, that combats the risks of modern banking and finance.

While cyber threats have been looming for decades now, the global pandemic has further worsened the potential damage in the financial sector. With the shift from cash payments to online alternatives, cybercriminals are given more avenues to execute their attacks. In the past few years, the surging e-commerce space has created new opportunities for both consumers and cybercriminals. Unfortunately, the net result is an ongoing rise in compromised data and stolen money. 

With cybercriminals becoming more sophisticated in their tactics, banks must improve their cybersecurity measures to ensure that their digital systems are not vulnerable to attacks.

What can banks do to protect themselves?

Some financial institutions have begun taking appropriate measures to protect their digital assets. Darren Argyle, Chief Information Security Risk Officer at Standard Chartered Bank, places an emphasis on creating application programming interfaces (APIs) with tight verification and authentication processes in place. It’s important to learn how cybercriminals operate so that the institution can put the appropriate security measures in place. 

The banks’ Information Security teams conduct red/blue teaming exercises to simulate how their security measures hold up against cyber attacks. Through these practices, the team can assess how effective the security system is and pinpoint any weaknesses in its structure. Of course, designing secure systems and then conducting red-teaming exercises are not the only way to protect digital assets. 

Let’s take a closer look at how banks can safeguard against cyber threats.

Find the weak points

Coordinate with the IT department and take a deep dive into the system’s applications and databases. Find out all the information that can be used by hackers to execute cyber attacks against the bank or its clients. Don’t enact security measures without assessing the current system first. Identify the weak spots prior to making any strategic decisions.  

Banks and financial institutions conduct repeat audits to ensure these gaps are filled and to pinpoint new gaps, many times through third-party providers to ensure the most current protocols. Given the complexities of banking and cyber regulations, many banks simply do not have the people power to ensure this type of oversight. 

Enter artificial intelligence and machine learning.

Make use of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) systems

Business email compromise via phishing emails are the most common cyber threat for financial institutions. Old tactics like email flooding, spear-phishing, and malware have made a strong comeback in recent times. This can be attributed to services on the dark web that have enabled these methods of attack with little effort and resources. The black market enables attackers of all skill levels to carry out complex attacks. Personalized emails to employees require a simple cross-referencing of social media resources, breaking down the organizational security barriers. 

Incorporating AI and ML into the bank’s digital system can help in detecting fraudulent emails and even tracking phishing sources. With machine learning in place, a security system will be able to adapt much quicker than any person, making it an effective measure against fraud. In the future, AI and ML systems will be widely implemented to guard against more cyber threats so it’s crucial for financial institutions to establish these systems early. 

Focus on security fundamentals and avoid common mistakes

As the threat landscape broadens, adversaries are growing more sophisticated and crafting more complex attacks to cause even greater damage. Navigating through the complex threat landscape can be challenging. It can be tempting to fall victim to a new shiny tool that assures protection against threats to the organization, but that is not necessarily the case. Many times the most widespread cybersecurity breaches emerge from a lack of security basics done right. The following are key areas where organizational mistakes frequently occur:​

Security basics

Identifying assets, assessing risk, security training, and shaping a strong response plan are essential practices. 

Environmental vulnerabilities 

Neglecting to patch vulnerabilities in a timely manner leaves financial institutions susceptible to attacks. Vulnerabilities are not only limited to bugs, but also include misconfigurations.

In-depth defense practices

Continuing to identify, apply and enhance security controls while accepting that the technical landscape will change over time will ensure best practices from a defensive standpoint.

Educate all employees on cyber threats, not just the IT department

In 2021, cybersecurity is no longer just a role for the IT team or the security team. It’s paramount for organizations to educate every employee, partner, client, and customer on the dangers of cyber threats. Employees need to be aware of basic security measures that must be practiced when handling banking processes—be it online or through traditional means. It should not end there. 

Given the current cyber threat landscape, attacks against banks are not a matter of if, but when. It is one of the top concerns for the financial industry. Banking professionals are encouraged to take the necessary measures to protect their systems against hackers. And they need to realize that doing so is the job of both the employees and the clients.

Choose the right partners and vendors

While having the right processes, professionals and educational plans in place is important to fight against the ongoing cybersecurity battle, banks need to have a strong platform at their core in order to protect their digital assets and customers. 

While banks can certainly build their own platforms, FinTechs have become a viable—and quick—option for banks looking to go digital and elevate their fraud and verification capabilities. 

Amount provides the essential technology banks need to best protect their customers and their information. With core platform features including fraud prevention, verification, decisioning engines and account management, banks have the ability to serve and protect their customers every step of the way. 

Learn more about how you can upgrade your bank’s infrastructure.

LEARN MORE

Footnotes

The information in this post is provided for informational and advertising purposes only. Amount's service may vary for each customer. For more information, email us – media@amount.com.

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Built by lending industry experts, Amount’s platform has been tested, refined, and optimized to power modern banking experiences. Our omnichannel solutions enable frictionless consumer application and servicing so your customer can bank when they want and where they want. Our enterprise bank-grade infrastructure and compliance ensure that your bank is protected while powering profitable new growth opportunities.

How Are Banks Combating the Rise in Cyber Attacks?

Posted by Amount on January 28 , 2021
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How Are Banks Combating the Rise in Cyber Attacks

The evolution of technology has brought efficiency and convenience in how people use and store money. Consumers can pay for just about any good or service with the tap of a phone, swipe of a card, or even recognition of your face. 

It’s the age of cloud banking. Bank products and services have become widely accessible over the internet out of necessity. These innovations have enabled efficiencies in our day-to-day lives, while also heightening the risks of cyber attacks.

Why are cyber attacks dangerous to financial institutions?

Cyber attacks are digital assaults against computers, networks, and/or databases. They can be done to disable computers remotely, steal data, or hack a system’s operations, among other things. Banks are particularly susceptible to cyber attacks. 

According to research from the Boston Consulting Group, financial institutions are 300 times more likely to suffer from cyber attacks than organizations from other sectors. This underscores the importance of prioritizing a strategy, both defensively and offensively, that combats the risks of modern banking and finance.

While cyber threats have been looming for decades now, the global pandemic has further worsened the potential damage in the financial sector. With the shift from cash payments to online alternatives, cybercriminals are given more avenues to execute their attacks. In the past few years, the surging e-commerce space has created new opportunities for both consumers and cybercriminals. Unfortunately, the net result is an ongoing rise in compromised data and stolen money. 

With cybercriminals becoming more sophisticated in their tactics, banks must improve their cybersecurity measures to ensure that their digital systems are not vulnerable to attacks.

What can banks do to protect themselves?

Some financial institutions have begun taking appropriate measures to protect their digital assets. Darren Argyle, Chief Information Security Risk Officer at Standard Chartered Bank, places an emphasis on creating application programming interfaces (APIs) with tight verification and authentication processes in place. It’s important to learn how cybercriminals operate so that the institution can put the appropriate security measures in place. 

The banks’ Information Security teams conduct red/blue teaming exercises to simulate how their security measures hold up against cyber attacks. Through these practices, the team can assess how effective the security system is and pinpoint any weaknesses in its structure. Of course, designing secure systems and then conducting red-teaming exercises are not the only way to protect digital assets. 

Let’s take a closer look at how banks can safeguard against cyber threats.

Find the weak points

Coordinate with the IT department and take a deep dive into the system’s applications and databases. Find out all the information that can be used by hackers to execute cyber attacks against the bank or its clients. Don’t enact security measures without assessing the current system first. Identify the weak spots prior to making any strategic decisions.  

Banks and financial institutions conduct repeat audits to ensure these gaps are filled and to pinpoint new gaps, many times through third-party providers to ensure the most current protocols. Given the complexities of banking and cyber regulations, many banks simply do not have the people power to ensure this type of oversight. 

Enter artificial intelligence and machine learning.

Make use of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) systems

Business email compromise via phishing emails are the most common cyber threat for financial institutions. Old tactics like email flooding, spear-phishing, and malware have made a strong comeback in recent times. This can be attributed to services on the dark web that have enabled these methods of attack with little effort and resources. The black market enables attackers of all skill levels to carry out complex attacks. Personalized emails to employees require a simple cross-referencing of social media resources, breaking down the organizational security barriers. 

Incorporating AI and ML into the bank’s digital system can help in detecting fraudulent emails and even tracking phishing sources. With machine learning in place, a security system will be able to adapt much quicker than any person, making it an effective measure against fraud. In the future, AI and ML systems will be widely implemented to guard against more cyber threats so it’s crucial for financial institutions to establish these systems early. 

Focus on security fundamentals and avoid common mistakes

As the threat landscape broadens, adversaries are growing more sophisticated and crafting more complex attacks to cause even greater damage. Navigating through the complex threat landscape can be challenging. It can be tempting to fall victim to a new shiny tool that assures protection against threats to the organization, but that is not necessarily the case. Many times the most widespread cybersecurity breaches emerge from a lack of security basics done right. The following are key areas where organizational mistakes frequently occur:

Security basics

Identifying assets, assessing risk, security training, and shaping a strong response plan are essential practices. 

Environmental vulnerabilities 

Neglecting to patch vulnerabilities in a timely manner leaves financial institutions susceptible to attacks. Vulnerabilities are not only limited to bugs, but also include misconfigurations.

In-depth defense practices

Continuing to identify, apply and enhance security controls while accepting that the technical landscape will change over time will ensure best practices from a defensive standpoint.

Educate all employees on cyber threats, not just the IT department

In 2021, cybersecurity is no longer just a role for the IT team or the security team. It’s paramount for organizations to educate every employee, partner, client, and customer on the dangers of cyber threats. Employees need to be aware of basic security measures that must be practiced when handling banking processes—be it online or through traditional means. It should not end there. 

Given the current cyber threat landscape, attacks against banks are not a matter of if, but when. It is one of the top concerns for the financial industry. Banking professionals are encouraged to take the necessary measures to protect their systems against hackers. And they need to realize that doing so is the job of both the employees and the clients.

Choose the right partners and vendors

While having the right processes, professionals and educational plans in place is important to fight against the ongoing cybersecurity battle, banks need to have a strong platform at their core in order to protect their digital assets and customers. 

While banks can certainly build their own platforms, FinTechs have become a viable—and quick—option for banks looking to go digital and elevate their fraud and verification capabilities. 

Amount provides the essential technology banks need to best protect their customers and their information. With core platform features including fraud prevention, verification, decisioning engines and account management, banks have the ability to serve and protect their customers every step of the way. 

Learn more about how you can upgrade your bank’s infrastructure.

LEARN MORE

Topics: Insight