Technological advancement in the past few decades has changed the way people live and how businesses operate all over the world. Everything in our life has become easier, faster and much more convenient. However, it’s impossible to ignore the flip side to such a scenario. Today, more crimes are being conducted via the internet and a computer rather than a gun.
Each year, a growing number of individuals and organisations fall prey to cyberattacks. As cyber threats continue to evolve, the facts and figures become more and more concerning. This is even more so for banks, NBFCs and institutions belonging to the financial sector – a sector associated with money, information and the public.
Cyberattacks On The Financial Sector
Cybercriminals have diverse reasons to target banks and other financial institutions. The financial sector houses the most sensitive data and liquid assets. By gaining access to a financial institution’s database, hackers can steal money or spy on organisations and its customers. They can sell the stolen confidential data and use the money to fund terrorist attacks. By hacking into a network, cybercriminals can even manipulate or disrupt markets, which interests state actors.
Hackers can damage, destroy and misuse important data, intellectual property, steal money, commit fraud, embezzlement, and identity theft. Cyberattacks, even unsuccessful ones, carry the potential to disrupt usual business activities, leading to loss of financial and other resources. Besides affecting a financial institution’s solvency, cybersecurity failures can also ruin an organisation’s reputation, proving even more crippling than financial losses. As most of the banking system lies interconnected, the spillover of cyberattacks on other banks can even paralyse the overarching financial system of a state.
Over the past few years, hackers have been carrying out more sophisticated and large scale attacks on this sector. In 2016, Bangladesh’s central bank became victim to one of them, losing nearly $100 million. In 2017, Equifax, a credit reporting agency, reported the largest publicly disclosed breaches in history. Sensitive personal information, including social security numbers of over 145 million compromised customers, was leaked. The 2018 survey report of the Association for Financial Professionals revealed that such payments fraud increased substantially in 2017. And it has been increasing ever since.
The Surge In Cyberattacks During Festive Season
The festive season is upon us. This is the time of the year, when we celebrate, indulge and share the joy with others. However, it’s also the time of increased cyber threats. During the festive season, each year witnesses a greater number of cyberattacks. A 2017 report reveals that e-commerce transactions grew by 19% between Thanksgiving Day and 31st December compared to the same time as the previous year. At the same time, fraud attempts grew by 22%.
With people purchasing gifts, dining out, and engaging in all sorts of holiday activities, the volume of transactions is at an all-time high. So, the financial sector, which remains a prime target of hackers throughout the years, becomes even more susceptible to attacks during the holiday season.
How Can Banks & NBFCs Turn More Vigilant This Festive Season
As threats keep evolving in scope, technique and sophistication, cybersecurity measures must evolve with them. Organisations need to assess and upgrade their cybersecurity capabilities and maturity level. Besides having full-time professionals devoted to cybersecurity, every member of the organisation needs to understand and embrace their respective roles and responsibilities in detecting instructions, reporting them and maintaining good cybersecurity hygiene. A cyber range is an effective way to prepare against future attacks.
A cyber range is an ultra-realistic virtual milieu used for extending cyber warfare training and software development to security operatives. It involves experiential real-world threat modules and personalised on hand simulations. Cybersecurity teams can prepare themselves by responding to real-world, simulated cyberattacks in a controlled environment.
With the help of a cyber range training and simulation platform, organisations can create a clone of their own network environment. By evading and neutralising various threats on an everyday basis, white hat hackers of the organisation can easily identify and respond to potential threats in their network.
The security team can experiment and evaluate their people, strategies, and technologies before facing an actual cyberattack. Using unlimited testing opportunities, developers can validate their proof of concepts. So, their team and processes stay updated and well-prepared for multiple scenarios, including festive season surge in cyberattacks.
Allocating adequate investment to cybersecurity, educating staff and following the best practices can save a financial institution from irrecoverable losses. Moreover, training cybersecurity professionals in a real-time simulated environment is essential if they are to protect their digital fortresses from ever-evolving cyberattacks.
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Rakesh is a dynamic IT leader with more than two decades of eclectic industry experience. He is the Managing Director at Cyberbit, India and has over 25 years of experience in the IT industry, leading high growth businesses, focusing on advanced and niche technology solutions.