Cyberattacks on Banks

For quite some time now, cyberattacks have been a major concern for all organizations. In 2021, several cyberattacks demonstrated the willingness and ability of cyber threat actors to disrupt the operations of businesses and the supply chains that rely upon them. These high-profile attacks spurred an Executive Order on Cybersecurity in the United States and a renewed focus on securing every aspect of a business’ cyber threat surface.

All industries and companies face cyber risk, but some sectors are more targeted and at risk than others. The financial industry stands out among these as one with a great deal of sensitive and valuable information for attackers to target and numerous potential opportunities for cybercriminals to profit from their attacks.

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How Banks Are At Risk

According to IBM’s 2021 Cost of a Data Breach Report, data breaches in the financial industry have the second-highest costs behind the healthcare sector. Verizon’s Data Breach Investigation Report (DBIR) places the financial industry in the top five for the number of security incidents in 2021. Access to valuable data that can be used in fraud and other cyberattacks makes the financial industry a target for expensive and damaging data breaches.

However, data breaches are not the only risk that banks face. Banks are also under constant threat by ransomware infections, phishing schemes, and account takeover attacks. These threats can result in data breaches, interruption to operations, and costly remediation.

Common Cyber Threats For Banks

Some of the most common types of attacks that banks face include:

  • Phishing: Phishing messages are designed to trick the recipient into visiting a malicious site or opening an infected attachment. Phishing is a leading delivery vector for malware and is also commonly used to steal login credentials and other sensitive information.
  • Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS): In a DDoS attack, many infected computers are used to make spam requests to an organization’s systems. By overwhelming these systems, the attacker renders them unable to respond to legitimate requests. DDoS attacks may be used simply to disrupt operations or as part of extortion.
  • Vulnerability Exploitation: Cyber threat actors commonly scan organizations’ Internet-facing applications for exploitable vulnerabilities. These vulnerabilities can have varying impacts, such as allowing attackers to execute malicious code, steal sensitive information, or perform a Denial of Service (DoS) attack against a bank’s systems.
  • Account Takeover: The growth of telework has prompted the widespread adoption of secure remote access solutions. Attackers can use leaked, stolen, or guessed credentials to log into corporate systems and steal data or deploy malware.

Many types of cyberattacks are intended to deliver malware to an organization’s systems. Some of the most common malware threats that banks face include:

  • Ransomware: Ransomware attacks interrupt a bank’s operations and can result in the permanent loss of valuable and sensitive data. In recent years, ransomware groups have also expanded their attacks to include theft and breach of sensitive information. This could result in the exposure of a bank’s customers’ sensitive financial data on the dark web and regulatory penalties for the organization.
  • Cryptominers: Proof of Work cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin require computationally expensive operations as part of the block creation process. Cryptomining malware infects a company’s machines and uses them to perform these computations to the attacker’s benefit.
  • Infostealers: Financial institutions are entrusted with a great deal of sensitive data, including the personal financial information of their customers. Infostealer malware collects and exfiltrates this and other sensitive information from an organization, resulting in a data breach and regulatory penalties.
  • Botnets: Botnet malware is designed to infect and take over a target computer. The attacker can then remotely control the infected computer to use it in DDoS or credential stuffing attacks.

How Banks Can Protect Themselves

The financial sector is one of the most highly-regulated industries worldwide. While this creates additional overhead, it can also have benefits for cyber security.

Protection of sensitive customer data is a primary goal of most regulations, including both general ones such as the EU’s GDPR and those targeted specifically at the financial industry. These regulations commonly mandate that a bank implement certain security controls, processes, and procedures intended to protect the sensitive data entrusted to the organization.

Developing and implementing a regulatory compliance strategy is an important first step toward securing a bank’s systems against cyber threats. Regulatory requirements outline the minimum security standards that financial institutions need to meet and can build upon to protect themselves against modern cyber threats.

Cybersecurity For Banks With Check Point

To protect against cyber risk, financial service organizations need to understand the threats that they are facing. To learn more about the current cyber threat landscape for the financial sector check out this whitepaper.

Check Point offers a consolidated security architecture for financial institutions looking to protect themselves against cyber threats and meet regulatory compliance requirements. To learn more about how Check Point solutions can work for your organization, you’re welcome to sign up for a free demo.

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