13 Dec 2021
By: Craig Petronella, Founder of USA Best Cybersecurity Solutions, HQ in Raleigh, North Carolina
In the 21st century, banking and other financial transactions have joined the long list of activities that are powered by computers. We pay bills online, make purchases with credit cards, and move and invest our money on the web. This convenience and ease come with a downside, however; like anything run via software, the financial services organizations entrusted with personal and financial information are vulnerable to hackers.
This threat is far from theoretical.
In a time when cyberattacks are on the rise overall, financial institutions are being increasingly targeted over other types of companies.
According to an analysis in 2015, the financial sector was four times as likely as other industries to be the target of a hack attempt. By 2019, that number had skyrocketed to 300 times more attacks targeting financial service firms than other types of firms. [i] U.S. institutions are squarely in the crosshairs: of 207 major global cyberattacks against financial services since 2007, 55 were against U.S. companies. [ii]
Why Banks and Other Financial Services Firms Get Hit
There’s a simple explanation as to why hackers go after financial service organizations—to adapt a phrase from a notorious bank robber, Willie Sutton, “That’s where the money (and the data) is.”
Malicious actors who successfully infiltrate a bank or credit union’s network can gain access to both the financial assets it holds and the sensitive personal information of its customers; sensitive personal information that can then be sold on the dark web or leveraged in further cyberattacks. It may take more work for a hacker to breach the defenses of a financial institution, but they’re almost guaranteed to find something worth having if they do.
In general, financial service firms aren’t unaware of the risk they’re under, but when everyone’s gunning for you, there’s a decent chance someone’s going to succeed. Keeping their information and networks secure is made more complicated by the growing use of remote access and cloud computing, which makes IT systems more complex and creates openings for hackers to exploit. [iii] Smaller organizations, like accounting firms or asset managers, may lack the resources that larger national chains can spend on security, but they still have the same kind of valuable information to protect.
This hacking trend is, unfortunately, not limited to only traditional financial institutions; in fact, bad actors have also been targeting cryptocurrency exchanges. Although blockchain-based digital currencies like bitcoin are usually perceived as being secure, the systems in which they are exchanged and traded can have exploitable vulnerabilities. [iv]
The consequences of a successful hack on a financial institution aren’t hard to imagine. Even if your company manages to weather the financial losses, the reputational losses might be impossible to shake. After all, who wants to give someone who couldn’t keep their money and confidential personal information safe a second chance to lose it again?
Find Your Weaknesses (And Fix Them!) Before the Hackers Do
Someone attempting to hack your financial institution might be inevitable but allowing them to succeed doesn’t have to be. Don’t wait to find out what could go wrong!
The best cybersecurity approach is to be proactive—and that requires a penetration (pen) test.
A Petronella Technology Group (PTG) pen test is a simulated attack run by an expert, meaning that it will reveal the exact vulnerabilities a hacker could find and exploit. You get a thorough report identifying which security measures are working, which are not, and which information would be compromised in the event of an attack. Most importantly, you get a plan for fixing your security gaps to slam the door on cybercriminals before they can strike.
Get a PTG ethical hacker to show you if your cybersecurity infrastructure is robust enough to protect your financial institution from being hijacked by a hacker. As part of a comprehensive, ongoing security plan, a pen test is a critical step in keeping your data and systems secure from hacks, ransomware attacks, and other cybercrimes. To find out more about how PTG can help keep your financial institution safe from online threats, contact us here or call 919-646-3780.