Cyber security is an essential component to maintain the integrity of the financial market as it can be used to protect sensitive data and information

Top Cybersecurity Trends In The Financial Market

The global financial services market is worth $22.5 trillion, and it is growing rapidly while also making up about 1/4th of the world’s economy. This is a high stakes industry, and it consists of several service providers, including banks, investment firms, mutual funds, credit card issuing companies, and leasing companies that provide management of financial assets and retain customer details to facilitate transactions.

Initially, the transactions were managed physically via cash, but there has been a recent shift towards digital payments due to the increased availability and penetration of mobile usage and the Internet, along with developments in digital monetary and asset management infrastructures. However, the developments come with their own set of security risks due to the increased ease of access which requires relevant safety protocols to be put in place to combat any cybersecurity threats. The increased security issues have resulted in cyber security measures that give rise to data protection issues and fraudulent and unauthorized activities. Let’s take a look at some recent cybersecurity trends for financial institutions to watch out for to protect their assets and customers in 2021.

Ransomware Attacks

With the increased dependence on digital systems for financial transactions, this system is susceptible to ransomware attacks. Ransomware is a malicious software that holds information under the threat of publishing or prevents access to data for a ransom fee to be paid within a stipulated deadline. Ransomware attacks are quite common nowadays, and they affect consumers and businesses in different industries. Hackers consistently create sophisticated ransomware software that is efficient in avoiding detection by exploiting security gaps in the system. Ransomware attacks can be prevented by constantly updating anti-malware programs, using secure routers, VPN’s, and enhanced requirements for granting access to the system.

Authentication Abuse

Authentication abuse occurs when log in, or access details of company personnel to secure servers are extracted by hackers who have preexisting knowledge of the system’s weaknesses. The hacker gains access to the system through accessing passwords, security certificates, and other forms of authentication or by overriding the authentication mechanism. There are a range of tactics that hackers can use to obtain credentials, specifically through phishing and pharming, to pose as a legitimate business. In the digital landscape, the information is interconnected, and by accessing a portion, the hackers have the tools to exploit further security witnesses to gain access to the entire system. Authentication abuse can be prevented by using multi-factor authentication and verification, implementing complicated passwords, and avoiding connecting to public Wi-Fi networks.

Supply Chain Attacks

Supply chain attacks are also known as third party attacks as they often target suppliers and vendors of a particular business to gain access to your system. This attack is difficult to identify accurately as even if the business has a highly secure system, they work with numerous third parties who might not have proper security systems in place. These third-party suppliers are essential for fulfilling the business’s supply chain needs, and hackers can exploit these third-party networks by using malware to compromise one piece of software before it mutates and spreads through the entire supply chain to extract proprietary information and supply chain schematics. Supply chain attacks can be mitigated by implementing honeytokens to alert any data breaches and also by securing privileged access across the system to prevent the malware from spreading throughout the infrastructure.

Critical Infrastructure Threats

Critical infrastructure involves the foundation on which the digital corporation is built that is necessary for internal communication and managing the effective functioning of the business. Some common components of critical infrastructure include operation technology (OT), industrial control systems (ICS), and SCADA systems, which are interconnected and require an overarching security system to protect the crucial information within. Hackers can use a range of tools to infiltrate secure systems, including malware, bots, phishing, and software weaknesses.  Critical infrastructure can be protected by having a plan in place against a growing number of threats and weaknesses that should account for physical and digital security concerns and implementing safeguards and barriers in place.

Insider Threats

Human error and malicious intent are a cause for concern in cyber security, and most security breaches occur due to human behavior. While there can be vulnerabilities in the computer network and system, we cannot discount the human factor as it is highly unpredictable and a liability when it comes to data security and privacy. There are countless scams that prey on vulnerable individuals and ask them for account details for verification purposes or transactions, and it results in a cyber incident as the details act as a door to the system infrastructure, which can then be exploited to access the funds and assets of financial institutions such as banks. Additionally, disgruntled employees can also be a cause of concern when it comes to financial institutions such as banks.

Banks, investment firms, and insurance agencies are vulnerable to cyber security breaches that can be exploited via ransomware, authentication abuse, infrastructure exploitation, third party attacks, and human error. It’s important to be hyper-vigilant in to stay on top of the top cybersecurity trends in the financial markets. And, Cyber-crime is highly prevalent, and it can have catastrophic results which is why there is a need to significantly invest in cybersecurity measures such as two way authentication, firewalls, and anti-malware software depending on the security needs of the financial institution.

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