Recurrent Cyber Threats Financial Services Need to Be Aware Of

Cyber threats to financial services can be the most damaging to all parties involved. Without dedicated action, the global financial system will only become more vulnerable.

Hacker holding a laptop

All industries face varying risks of cyber attacks and need to hone a focus on mitigating vulnerabilities. With that being said, financial services cyber threats can be the most damaging to all parties involved. Without dedicated action, the global financial system will only become more vulnerable, with the sector facing unique risks from cyber threats.

With a growing cyber risk in financial services, leaders in the industry need to adopt a focus on the cyber threats they face, alongside their teams’ involvement and risk posed in order to take the steps to mitigate risk.

TryHackMe empowers and upskills over one million users with guided, gamified training. Hands-on labs teach hacking and defence in action, with training that’s enjoyable, easy to understand and transitional to job roles.

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Human Error

Statistically, human error accounts for the weakest link in cyber security, with an estimated 95% of cyber security breaches caused by human error.

The cost of human error in cyber security in the financial services sector can be detrimental, with many breaches easily preventable. Even the slightest of human errors in cyber security can lead to devastating consequences when it comes to security, with significant damage to reputation and financial losses.

Of course, building a cyber culture is the most effective way of eliminating human error. The repercussions of financial services cyber attacks can be exponentially expensive to rectify. For this reason, training and equipping the workforce and creating a cyber resilient team have never been more crucial.

TryHackMe cyber awareness training can alleviate the risk of human error with gamified, actionable training.

Third-Party Suppliers

Fintechs are lucrative targets for cyber criminals, making them an industry target for stealing customer data and money. Additionally, the fintech industry relies heavily on third-party suppliers, making them an attractive and strategic target for attacks.

81% of the financial sector outsource their financial technology services via fintech firms, which also results in high data leakage costs for financial institutions. In addition, 71% of banks have expressed concerns about the cyber security risks supplemented with fintech firms in their fintech partnerships.

Lack of Authentication

Another prime example of a cyber threat is a lack of two-factor authentication (2FA), while financial accounts are ranked first in the most important accounts to secure via 2FA.

While it is widely used in the sector, many banks and financial firms have yet to implement 2FA due to the burden and inconvenience it brings customers. Other reasons include the widespread lack of funding, planning, development and testing capabilities, making the implementation of 2FA out of reach for many financial firms. In contrast, only 26% of companies use multi-factor authentication.

Lack of Cyber Security Professionals

As a primary target of cyber crime, financial service professionals must continuously learn and adapt to new types of threats. With that being said, we are currently experiencing a major shortage of cyber security professionals in the field, making banks, investment firms and credit unions an increasingly enticing target.

When exploring the nature and extent of cyber security skills gap, it’s revealed that:

  • 51% of all private sector businesses identify a fundamental technical cyber security skills gap
  • 49% of all cyber sector firms have faced problems with technical cyber security skills gaps in the past 12 months, either among existing staff or job applicants
  • Over a third (33%) of businesses have a more advanced technical skills gap in areas such as penetration testing, forensic analysis, security architecture or engineering, threat intelligence, interpreting malicious code and user monitoring

In addition, cyber threats are constantly evolving, with cyber criminals developing an increasingly sophisticated market of tools and services to target the financial sector.

Phishing Scams

Recent years have seen an enormous upsurge in phishing attacks. Unsurprisingly, this has only skyrocketed with an increasing number of remote workers nationwide.

Most commonly, phishers target financial institutions using social engineering, such as posing as a legitimate organisation to trick employees and customers into sharing confidential data.

While the sector has continued to embrace transformative technologies, this has also exposed the financial industry to a constant stream of phishing scams to compromise financial services’ data security.

Around half of cyber attacks in the UK involve phishing (a third in the US), with phishing attempts found in one in every 3,722 emails. To add to this, as many as 42% of employees cannot identify phishing emails.

With over 560 training labs, TryHackMe has training catered to a plethora of cyber threats and patterns. Show your team how to analyse and defend against phishing emails. Investigate real-world phishing attempts using a variety of techniques with our Phishing module.

DDoS Attacks

DDoS (distributed denial-of-service) attacks are designed to exceed a website’s capacity to handle multiple requests, preventing the website from functioning as it should.

Unsurprisingly, no other sector experiences as many DDoS attacks as the financial service sector, with 50% of organisations targeted by DDoS attacks in the financial industry.

One notable victim of a DDoS attack is a global European bank that was recently targeted by a multi-vendor attack, with three significant bursts of traffic reaching over 200 gigabytes of volume in total. As a result of the DDoS attack, website users experienced a much slower response to requests, with some user requests ignored altogether.

Seven of the UK’s largest banks have also fallen victim to DDoS attacks recently, including Santander, Tesco Bank, RBS, Lloyds, HSBC, Clydesdale and Yorkshire Banking Group, and Barclays.

Artificial Intelligence

As with any technology, using AI in financial services can pose risks to consumers, firms, the financial system, and the broader economy.

In some cases, the use of artificial intelligence (AI) has aided cyber criminals trying to attack financial services businesses and institutions through identifying new vulnerabilities in networks, devices and applications.

Studies show that 88% of decision-makers in the security industry believe offensive AI is inevitable. At the same time, over half of respondents expect an increase in attacks.

For the financial sector, this has led to cyber criminals increasing the complexity and severity of cyber attacks. While it goes without saying, secure data management and storage in financial services have never been more critical. Fortunately, financial institutions can also use AI to combat these cyber crimes.

Advanced Persistent Threats

Advanced Persistent Threats (APTs) is a term used to describe a continuous attack campaign using hacking techniques to gain access to a system and remain inside for a prolonged period of time. This unauthorised access generally remains undetected.

It’s estimated that 95% of targeted threats and APTs use spear phishing as a starting point of the attack. Due to the sensitive nature of financial firms’ data and the goal for financial gain, the sector is most vulnerable to APTs.

TryHackMe has training modules dedicated to APTs, helping your team learn what to look out for and how to defend against APT attacks.

Preparing the Financial Sector for Cyber Security

TryHackMe was launched to allow users to train and upskill in cyber security - from the beginner with no prior experience to the seasoned hacker looking to stay on top of attack trends and evolutions. Over one million users leverage TryHackMe to upskill for work and learn something new. Businesses partner with us to create branded, customised learning paths that align with job requirements and skill levels, giving teams relevant, engaging, personalised training.