Increasingly the finance sector has found itself targeted by hackers and cyber criminals; a report in 2015 from Websense highlighted that financial services businesses suffered 300% more cyber security incidents than other industries.
Attacks are becoming more sophisticated and advanced every day so it is vital that financial organisations take steps to shore up their cyber security. The finance sector holds so much sensitive personal data, businesses operating within it are as seen as very valuable places to hack. This shows that financial service companies need to ensure that all of their cyber security is strong and proactive.
Worryingly many institutions seem to be placing all their faith in insurance against cyber attacks but if security continues to be overlooked it could have a catastrophic effect on the industry. Businesses must continue to invest in the technology, tools and training to outsmart the hackers.
But with criminals becoming more intelligent and effective, what are the key issues that the finance sector needs to address if it is to protect itself more effectively from hackers in the future?
Protect the weak points
Too often the cyber security of financial organisations has been breached by exploiting the weak areas of the business. While this might seem obvious, it points to the fact that just as hackers will exploit the weakest points, the business must do most to address these issues.
The first point to make is that it is absolutely vital that cyber security is taken seriously. In practice that means that security cannot be seen simply as a job for the IT department to deal with. The businesses that are most successful in countering cyber threats are those that have their senior management take ownership of cyber security issues. This way there can be high levels of awareness training and additional steps taken at all levels to combat potential threats to the business.
Even after stringent steps are taken to combat any cyber attacks, ensuring that company data access is monitored and data logs stored across all levels of the business becomes vital. Knowing how data has been accessed or who has accessed it could help with eDiscovery processes (carried out by firms such as Eide Bailly) in the unfortunate event of a data breach.
Remember that passwords are still one of the major weak points for any organisation – and while this might seem like one of the simplest issues to fix, too often businesses are blinded to the simplicity of the problem until it is too late.
It is also true that many financial businesses suffer from compliance fatigue when it comes to cyber security. Typically, businesses that are worst hit by hackers are those than run systems with minimum levels of compliance to regulations. This shows it is not enough to
While ‘ethical hacking’ might seem like an oxymoron it can actually be a very effective technique in analysing a business’ weaknesses. Ethical hacking (sometimes called white hat hacking) uses a number of complex and advanced hacking techniques against a business to simulate a genuine malicious cyber attack.
This technique can help you to understand exactly how a real cyber criminal might attack your website. It can show up the weaknesses in your cyber security and inform you of how hackers could use them to exploit you. This gives you the chance to make appropriate changes to the system so that those vulnerabilities can no longer be penetrated.
In this era of highly sophisticated hackers, these simulated attacks can help you stay ahead of the criminals and deal with issues before they can give your business any problems.
Consider every possible threat
In order to protect yourself fully from cyber intrusion it’s worth following the same steps as those businesses with the most successful attack prevention systems. Organisations that are the most effective in preventing cyber attacks always consider every aspect of their cyber security perimeter. This includes analysing the potential problems with business partners, the cloud and other outsourced data centres.
It’s also true that the most effective businesses in combating cyber threats employ continuous monitoring of potential problems rather than just sitting back and hoping the current defences will be effective.
These leading businesses also understand key assets and how to protect them. It’s important that senior management understand which assets are most important to the organisation and are aware of the threats that are posed to them.
With continued investment and taking the time to analyse the changing nature of threats against the business, financial organisations can develop powerful defences and be in a strong position to prevent attacks.
Article provided by Mike James, an independent content writer in the tech industry – working alongside a selection of companies including cyber-threat prevention specialists Redscan, who were consulted over the information in this piece.