Top Cyber Security Threats to Financial Service Providers

Organisations within the financial services sector are at a high risk of cyber security attacks. This is primarily due to the large amount of highly sensitive, personally identifiable data collected, managed and stored on their systems. 

The financial services sector arguably holds the most personally identifiable information (PII) than any other sector. From sensitive customer information, credit card details, to information on property titles, criminal hackers have ample amounts of data to access and exploit and monitise if successfully breached.

Without solid cyber security measures in place, financial services providers could be at risk of a cyber security breach. In our latest blog, we walk you through the biggest cybersecurity threats to financial service providers and how to protect against them. 


1. Unencrypted Data

Encrypting your organisation's data is a basic but crucial part to creating and maintaining a robust cyber security stance. When encrypted, even if your data is stolen by criminal hackers, it cannot be immediately used by them. If left unencrypted, hackers can use the data right away, creating serious problems for the financial institution.

Encryption works by adding a key to a message or file to produce ciphertext, or a coded piece of data. The ciphertext can then only be viewed using the key to decrypt the original content. So, even if a hacker is able to intercept encrypted data, it is useless to him without the decryption key.

Full Drive Encryption (FDE) should be considered over encrypting individual documents and emails as it is highly effective when dealing with devices that are susceptible to tampering such as mobile phones and laptops.  

When FDE software is installed, it encrypts the hard drive and everything within it. As new files are added to the system, or existing files are modified, they are automatically encrypted. 


2. Inside Vulnerabilities

Insider vulnerabilities is a cyber security weakness that not only affects financial services providers but all business sectors. 

Humans are the weakest factor in any organisation's cyber security efforts. Version’s yearly data breach investigation report concluded that 85% of data breaches involved a human element, 36% of these were down to targeted phishing attacks.

Educating employees is key to ensuring your organisation is protected from a cyber security attack. 

To be effective, training must be consistent, engaging and give the remote workforce real life examples of what to look out for. Training should include specific rules for email, web browsing and social networks. Organisations should also include training on social engineering attacks such as phishing, password vulnerabilities, router hardening and protecting work devices while working remotely. 

Regular conversations about the potential impacts a cyber incident may have on your organisation's operations should be conducted to make certain your employees understand their obligations when it comes to cyber security. 

Employees should be encouraged to report suspicious signs immediately. Even if it turns out to be a false alarm, it might still be beneficial to the employee by clearing up errors in their device that hamper productivity. 


3. Third-Party Vendor Vulnerabilities

Vendor Vulnerabilities is a common cyber security challenge facing financial service providers when introducing third party products to their network. 

Financial service providers often have very sophisticated security in place to protect their organisation and their clients but they then rely on third-party vendors such as cloud service suppliers for some of their services.

Relying on a third-party vendor not only means that you are depending on the systems they have built. It also means that you are trusting that they have the built in cyber security features needed to keep cyber criminals from exploiting any weaknesses. This is crucial when considering a vendor, as vulnerable vendors that have access to your IT Assets put financial institutions at risk of becoming vulnerable to an attack.  

When bringing in the services of a vendor, it’s crucial to ensure that their cyber security posture is as robust as your own. 


Repercussions of a data breach

Successful attacks on a financial provider could have serious repercussions including impacting customers through theft of personal data, the inability to withdraw or move funds from their accounts and reduce confidence in the provider. In addition, regulatory bodies such as the Data Protection Commission may impose costly fines or post-incident reporting requirements for failing to keep sensitive data protected.


How we can help

Identifying vulnerabilities within your network can be a difficult task to complete without an expert's eye. At Secora Consulting, we offer Configuration Reviews, Vulnerability Assessments and IT Health Checks that can identify vulnerabilities within your organisations IT assets to help protect you from unauthorised access and breaches. 

We also offer tailored simulated phishing exercises to determine how effectively your organisation can identify incoming phishing attacks. 

If you’re interested in this - or any of our other bespoke cyber security assessments, contact us to find out more. 


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