Top cybersecurity trends in the financial sector
27 August 2021

As digitalisation in the global financial services sector and digital banking channel adoption gather pace, the risks posed by cybercriminals will accelerate in unison.

The global COVID-19 pandemic also drove a surge in cyberattack attempts on banking institutions. According to the third edition of the VMware Carbon Black Modern Bank Heists report, financial organisations experienced a 238% increase in cyberattacks between February and April 2020.

The most common attacks on financial services providers include web application attacks in the form of unvalidated redirects and forwards to SQL injections, distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks that disrupt access to online and digital services, as well as malware, phishing, man-in-the-middle and internal attacks.

Banking customers also faced various threats, including fraud from identity and personal data theft and card cloning, particularly as more consumers embraced e-commerce amid pandemic lockdowns.

Based on the sophistication and severity of these cyberattacks, the interconnected nature of modern cloud-based banking and financial transaction systems, and the growing number of endpoints, including point-of-sale devices, ATMs, card readers and mobile banking apps, legacy security solutions are no longer sufficient to protect banks and their customers.

For instance, the unrelenting rise in mobile-first consumer banking behaviour is driving demand for secure mobile banking and payment solutions. In response, financial organisations must provide robust mobile security with highly secure authentication and verification measures for mobile transactions to protect against fraud.

Responding to threats posed by mobile banking requires multi-factor authentication, supported with adaptive monitoring to analyse user behaviour to detect suspicious activity.

Furthermore, consolidating multiple endpoint security capabilities in the cloud via an agentless security platform that applies consistent policies and enforcement across heterogenous apps and infrastructure, offers robust endpoint security amid growing cloud adoption in the sector. These solutions also offload tasks from already overburdened cybersecurity teams.

With so many attack vectors in play, financial services providers require comprehensive monitoring capabilities to proactively detect, neutralise and remediate cybersecurity risks and threats in real time before transactions and data are compromised.

In this regard, improving comprehensive threat visibility via unified security management solutions and data risk analytics tools can deliver better preemptive protection against sophisticated and advanced threats.

Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) are driving cybersecurity innovation within the financial services sector in response to evolving threats. These technologies can analyse large data sets to proactively identify client risks and vulnerabilities, and automatically detect non-compliant, risky, or malicious data access behaviour across all customer digital end-points while also automating responses.

Yet, despite all of these technological advances, most successful breaches still happen via email and malicious or compromised websites. As such, financial services providers require fully integrated web and email security solutions that block activity initiated by user action or via malware and malicious websites, coupled with ongoing employee awareness training.

Application layer security and network firewalls help protect financial organisations from web and DDoS attacks, credential theft and account takeovers, while providing high availability and business continuity during a potential attack.

The next evolution in network security will include functionality such as role-based access control solutions, which can restrict access to the network based on the user’s relationship to the organisation.

Financial institutions also capture, store and manage vast volumes of sensitive personally identifiable customer information. As such, banks and fintech providers require robust database security solutions to protect personal client information to mitigate against costly breaches and comply with stringent general and personal data protection regulations.

Cloud-based Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS) solutions allow financial organisation to create and securely and remotely store a copy local systems or databases, which they can use to restore operations in case of an outage due to a cyberattack.

Given the constantly evolving and diverse threat landscape, financial services providers require a multifaceted approach to current and emerging cybersecurity threats. Focused investment on intelligent digital security solutions will deliver the highest possible level of preparedness and security to mitigate these risks.

As mentioned, distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks remain one of the most common cyber threats faced in the financial services industry. Imperva protects you from DDoS attacks amongst other threats through its robust Application Security. It only takes moments for you to fall victim to an attack so time is of the essence, Imperva DDoS protection automatically blocks all assaults, typically in 1 second or less.

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