NordLayer - Network Security

Financial sector and cybersecurity: top threats & solutions

By NordLayer
12 May 2022
9 min read
Finance industry & cybersecurity

Every network-bound company that handles and processes sensitive data is subject to cybercriminals’ interest as valuable information usually translates to financial gains in the mind of a malicious actor. The financial sector is no exception as it’s prone to attack due to the sensitive nature of critical information assets, making it one of the most targeted industries globally.

The tension between sectors of banking, stock exchange, investment funds, payments service providers, insurance, accounting, other financial service businesses, and cybercriminals is watertight as the confrontation is constant. Any attack launched to induce financial and reputational damage. Meanwhile, organizations work on implementing security strategies to contain data breaches by indicating vulnerabilities and establishing effective security measures.

External cybersecurity challenges in the financial industry

The financial sector faces an intricate stream of various frequency and sophistication attacks that target different levels of business assets. The amplitude of impact is broad — it’s often directed to company systems, employees, and services, affecting customers of financial organizations.

Criminals mainly seek to obtain information that enables (in)direct acquisition of funds by employing ransomware, phishing, DDoS, or other attacks. Financial information includes credit card details, personal data like names, contact details, and social security/driver’s license numbers that could be illegitimately used instantly or sold to third parties.

Worrisome context of cyber threats 

The pressure on financial service providers is high, as 8 out of 10 U.S. citizens believe businesses aren’t competent enough to secure their financial information in case of a data breach, and 57% of consumers think organizations don’t do enough to protect their data

Such attitude results from the cybersecurity context as everyone almost daily hears about security incidents, leaked data, and financial losses. Just in the last year of 2020-2021 financial sector suffered from a significant amount of growing cyberattacks:

Finance industry & cybersecurity facts and figures

Range & impact of data breaches 

The constant threat push requires an enormous collaborative effort to avoid breaches and potential damage. However, criminal actors succeed in some cases, allowing industry members to analyze practices and decisions that went wrong, causing reputational damage, loss of trust, capital & clientele, regulatory fines, and other inconvenience. 

Here are some of the most recent cases that reached public audiences in 2021 alone:

  • American Express leak. Credit card details of 10,000 Mexico-based users appeared on a forum—information that included names, email addresses, and credit card details (except expiration dates & passwords) were available to anyone for free.

  • Microsoft Exchange servers breach. Cyberattackers discovered four unknown or unpatched (zero-day) vulnerabilities ] that impacted Microsoft Exchange servers affecting 30,000 users. Security updates were launched three months after learning bout the breach.

  • Google Play Store billing fraud. “Joker” malware appeared in the app store that triggers SMS message notifications for billing fraud. Targeted mainly at Southwest Asia and Arabian Peninsula users, malicious Android apps got over 700,000 downloads.

  • German cooperative banks hit by DDoS attack. Service disruption caused for Fiducia & GAD IT technology operators affected 800 financial institutions.

  • Amazon-hosted cloud data breach. 711,00 files of  Insurance tech start-up BackNine with sensitive data that contained medical information of clients and their families came available to anyone after storage server misconfiguration.

  • Blockchain crypto heist. Poly Network suffered a $600M loss in cryptocurrency after a funds theft found a system vulnerability. Interestingly, cybercriminals returned most of the stolen tokens.

These just a few cases illustrate the variety and amount of data stolen and millions of people impacted by data breaches. Moreover, an aftereffect of cyberattacks showcases tendencies escalation usually takes months to uncover a violation and sometimes even more time to eliminate the vulnerabilities exploited. At the same time, sensitive data sits on the dark web for illegitimate use.

Internal cybersecurity challenges in the finance industry

Finance industry functions on a complicated structure of technological and procedural systems. The complexity and variety of services and data handling are challenging as they require enormous maintenance resources. Insufficiencies in infrastructure or operational level might easily expose vulnerabilities to those seeking to exploit them.

Network architectures that stand on legacy perimeters may lack capacity and resilience to modern cyberattack methods. Frail anti-virus defenses, unencrypted data transactions, and late patching bring very little confidence that such a ‘strategy’ will work safely running financial services. 

Clearly defined processes and procedures are crucial in building a secure environment for data flow and storing — strict access management and high rate activity governance and monitoring play a considerable role in preventing data breaches. However, malicious activity data shows how challenging it is to speed up the intent to rule out internal cybersecurity challenges.

Cybersecurity tendencies and strategies

Designing an effective and robust digital transformation to protect business and service receivers might come overwhelmingly trying to find where to start. In that case, it’s always beneficial to look around and analyze the best practices discussed by topic researchers and colleagues that share similar problems — the risk of a breach is likely despite the company’s size and business nature as long it deals with sensitive information.

Compliance regulations

Regulatory compliance is one way to define a secure environment strategy for a company. Finance sector-relevant compliance regulations and standards like General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI-DSS) provide checklists for revising and auditing any financial organization’s cybersecurity posture

Following the compliance requirements help find the ground under managers’ feet, responsible for implementing security measures and policies. An organization that qualifies for internationally recognized standards also builds up the credibility and trust of a company for its stakeholders and helps prevent regulatory fines for non-compliance.

Infrastructure developments

Technological advancements in cybersecurity are continuously improving, providing options to companies that bring themselves to the route to network security. Not so long ago, a business VPN was an optimal solution for protecting sensitive company data assets with encryption, even on public WiFi. 

However, today VPN alone covers particular issues companies must unravel — more impactful solutions like cloud-edge architectures and all-covered cybersecurity arrangements often appear on a decision-making list.

SASE focus

A sophisticated cybersecurity approach to repel attacks combines remote access, network filtering and segmentation, cloud-based and SaaS solutions for capacity and organizational resource availability, simplified infrastructure upgrades, zero-trust defined security measures, and activity monitoring. More commonly, all these measures are known to fall under the definition of Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) architecture

The SASE architecture doesn’t come in as a sole product or solution from one provider but provides guidelines on how such infrastructure should look when put into practice. 

SASE-based organization cybersecurity strategy includes implementing cloud-adopted network connectivity, network traffic filtering, and distribution, user access control, and activity monitoring with threat-triggered defense system activation — all measures to protect data and improve information security management with interlayered features.

How is NordLayer relevant to financial sector enterprises?

The finance industry attracts virtual intruders due to the possession of sensitive financial and personal information. Finance-related service providers must prove reliable for clients to entrust their data and money.

Evaluating business risk appetite helps assess risk and security gaps, draw prospects for employee cyber-mindset training, and efficiently implement network security and data protection–targeted measures and policies

Developed in the light of the SASE approach, NordLayer is a secure remote access solution that offers an effective strategy for modern companies with remote teams of all sizes to transition to a safe environment. Easy to deploy, start and scale hardware-free features are convenient in planning a company’s cybersecurity roadmap and maintaining compliance policies and standards.

Data security and network access management–centered NordLayer helps enhance existing organization infrastructure with operating tools and services. The Zero Trust introduced access control practices, business VPN service, data encryption, network segmentation, and fixed IPs stacks up to a layered security model.

NordLayer’s design is valuable for upgrading the company to an up-to-date technology environment and refining the most reasonable cybersecurity practices by monitoring and auditing ongoing processes with a centralized Control Panel. Despite incoming challenges, protecting an organization network in the financial sector can be simple — get in touch and learn how to achieve adequate security that adapts to your business needs.

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