With all the mask wearing since the pandemic began, everyone looks like an old caricature of a bank robber—someone in a mask, carrying a weapon and pushing a note across the counter to the bank teller.
Today’s bank robbers, however, are based anywhere in the world, depleting bank accounts from a computer, using online tactics like malware, ransomware, and stolen credentials to access the funds.
As more people rely on online or mobile financial transactions and use cashless payment options, strong cybersecurity in the banking industry is necessary to protect customer assets by protecting the bank’s networks, software, devices and data from attacks.
Cyberthreats in banking
The modern bank robber, pushing a cyberthreat, has greater longevity to pursue a successful attack, which can be much more dangerous than the traditional. A single cyberattack can impact an entire banking system at once, affecting thousands of customers. A single cyberattack can create a snowball effect, turning into credential theft or identity theft, which continues to victimize the bank customers long after the initial threat.
Financial services is the most targeted industry for cyber threats, with banking malware used by cybercrime gangs as the most popular type of attack. Other top threats against banking cybersecurity include:
• Unencrypted data
• Social engineering and phishing attacks
• Third-party services and lax security measures
• Manipulated data
Addressing security risks in banking
To improve on cybersecurity, you need to recognize where the greatest security risks in banking are within your institution. If phishing attacks are introducing malware into your network, it is time to address your email security.
Although financial theft is the primary goal of bank cybercriminals, they are also looking for whatever else they can get, including customer and employee credentials. Introducing multi-factor authentication will better protect customer assets. This helps your customers in two ways. First, it is harder for a threat actor to access customer accounts directly from your bank. Second, it will protect customers whose credentials were previously stolen. Stolen credentials are a favorite tool of cybercriminals to targeting bank accounts.
Any time a threat actor can get to the data, it is at risk. Offering end-to-end encryption protects it from both outsider and insider threats, and will also protect it from manipulation. Cybercriminals, as well as malicious insiders, take advantage of unencrypted data to change information wherever they can — numbers on bank accounts, passwords, usernames, or contact information, whatever benefits them.
And of course, whenever a third party has access to your network, your security is only as good as their security, so it is vital to know third-party security protocols and programs before letting them into your system.
The overall approach to address security risks in banking is to put together a complete cybersecurity program focused on defense in depth. Tools that deal with specific threats are needed, but so are layers of defense systems that protect every possible gap and vulnerability in the entire banking infrastructure. Protection is key, and if one part of the protection falters, defense in depth has another layer ready to address the threat.
With so many cyber threats to the banking industry to fend off, cybersecurity is essential. Learn the importance of banking security and take action!