Cybersecurity in Financial Companies

Cybersecurity in finance companies - Avatao blog

Financial institutions handle vast amounts of critical information: credit card data, financial records, and sensitive personal information of their customers. As a result, they are a prime target for cybercriminals looking to steal information for financial gain.

Below, we will walk through some of the main cybersecurity threats that financial institutions face and the measures they can take to avoid these risks.

Phishing Attacks

Phishing attacks are a tactic used by cybercriminals to trick people into giving away sensitive information such as login credentials or financial information. Phishing attacks are often carried out through email or social media and can be difficult to detect. Financial institutions are particularly vulnerable to phishing attacks, as they often have large customer bases with a wide range of personal and financial information.

In order to prevent the risk of phishing, companies can implement anti-phishing software and provide training for employees on how to recognize and avoid phishing attempts.

Ransomware Attacks

Ransomware attacks involve malicious software that infects computers and encrypts the data on those machines. The attackers then demand a ransom, typically in the form of untraceable cryptocurrencies, to hand over the decryption key to get access to the data again.

Protecting computers against ransomware includes updating and patching all software, doing regular backups of critical and operational data, and training the employees to avoid phishing emails that are the main vector for ransomware delivery.

Malware

Malware, or malicious software, is designed to harm or exploit a computer or network. Malware can be used to steal login credentials, financial information, or to take control of a computer or network. To mitigate the risk of malware, companies can implement anti-virus and anti-malware software, as well as firewalls and intrusion detection systems.

Insider Threats

Insider threats refer to the risk posed by employees, contractors, or other insiders who have authorized access to a company’s network and information. Financial institutions often have large numbers of employees and contractors who have access to sensitive information. Insider threats can include theft of information, sabotage, or even espionage.

If companies want to dodghe the risk of insider threats, they can implement security measures such as least privilege access control, monitoring of access controls, and background checks and security training for employees.

DDoS Attacks

DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attacks are a type of cyberattack that overloads a website or network with traffic, making it unavailable to legitimate users. Financial institutions handle a large volume of transactions and their websites and online services are often critical to their operations. The blackout of the transaction networks can generate a loss of millions of dollars per hour, resulting in huge financial loss and damage to a company’s reputation.

Companies can implement DDoS protection services and build a reliable service infrastructure that can handle and load-balance large loads of traffic. All in order to mitigate the risk of DDoS attacks, 

Social Engineering

Social engineering is the use of deception or manipulation to trick people into giving away sensitive information. Financial institutions have many employees that are vulnerable to social engineering attacks. Customer-facing non-technical jobs such as sales or HR are especially susceptible to such attacks as they have frequent interaction with outside parties. Social engineering attacks can include phone phishing, pretexting, and baiting.

There is a good way to reduce the risk of social engineering: companies can implement security awareness training and educate employees on how to recognize and avoid social engineering attacks.

Compliance

Compliance is a critical operational risk for financial institutions. They need to consider regulatory standards such as PCI-DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard) for companies handling credit card transactions, or HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) for companies handling medical information. Compliance with these standards can help ensure that companies have the necessary controls in place to protect sensitive information and can help avoid potential fines and penalties.

It is also important to keep systems and software up-to-date with the latest security patches and updates. Not to mention, this is a big help to prevent known vulnerabilities from being exploited by attackers. This is particularly difficult for financial institutions, as critical systems cannot easily be updated and patched, not to mention maintenance downtime. Hence, any improvement needs to take this high-availability requirement into account.

To test the system for security bugs, financial institutions need to work with a reliable third-party security provider for regular security assessments and penetration testing. This can help identify any vulnerabilities in the company’s systems and networks, and provide guidance on how to address them.

In addition to technical measures, companies should also have a culture of security within their organization, with the top management actively promoting and supporting security policies and practices. This could ensure that all employees are aware of the importance of security and are taking appropriate measures to protect sensitive information.

Summary

In conclusion, financial institutions face a wide range of cybersecurity threats, including phishing, malware, data breaches, insider threats, DDoS attacks, and social engineering. To mitigate these risks, companies can implement a variety of security measures such as anti-phishing software, anti-virus and anti-malware software, firewalls, intrusion detection systems, encryption, access controls, monitoring, background checks, and security awareness training.

Additionally, companies should have incident response and ground checks, security awareness training, and DDoS protection services. They should also have a comprehensive incident response plan in place which outlines the steps to be taken in the event of a security incident.

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