Cyber Crime in the Financial Sector
The internet is a beautiful thing. In many ways, it’s made life easier by creating platforms that have heightened connectivity and opportunity. It does, however, have its fair share of drawbacks, chief among them cyber crime. According to a research report by the Accenture and Ponemon Institute, cyber crime targeting the financial sector grew by 67 percent over the last five years.
A Siege On the Financial Sector
2020 brought about many changes following the COVID-19 outbreak. In the wake of stay-at-home orders and large-scale shutdowns, many businesses had to shift their terms of operations. With a lot of people now forced to work from home, cyber criminals had the perfect opportunity to target systems and networks of individuals and businesses.
While the financial sector is no stranger to cyber attacks, the pandemic period only exacerbated the issue. Based on data from CrowdStrike Intelligence, a cyber-security service company, the financial sector was one of the most hard hit by cyber attacks during the lockdown period. There were a total of 86 attacks in the sector, ranking in 6th place among the most targeted industries globally.
Too Much Risk Without Enough Protection
Financial brokers carry a lot of sensitive financial data pertaining to their clients. This has made them an open target for cyber criminals. The fast pace in advancement of cyber attack techniques only makes the situation worse. It doesn’t help when employees fail to follow their company’s identity authentication process.
The Most Common Form of Attacks
Brokerage firms and finance advisors often receive fraudulent emails requesting fund transfers from clients. Other common forms of attacks include phishing scams, ransomware attacks, or software loopholes.
Overcoming the Issue
The most basic approach to enhance cyber security in the finance sector is to improve regulatory scrutiny. This process involves several key steps.
1. Create Robust Security Systems
Hackers are getting smarter. That makes security updates all the more vital. To safeguard customer data on personal computers and prevent employees from accidentally sensing personal information, steps such as email encryption are a must have. Regular patches and updates to the network infrastructure scan and fix prevailing vulnerabilities.
2. Better Employee Communication and Training
A chain is only as strong as its weakest link, and the same goes for a brokerage company. It’s one thing to have excellent cyber security systems in place, but it takes meticulous implementation to make them effective. Proper training on precautions can protect valuable information, especially when working remotely.
3. Minimize Removable Devices
Removable media includes any portable device that is connectable to an information system, network, or computer. Think of stuff like USB flash drives, memory cards, external solid state disk (SSDs) drives, or external hard drives. If new media is to be connected to the network, scanning and encryption are vital before any kind of media transfer occurs.
4. Expand Security Policy for Mobile Devices
A pliable worker schedule is great for remote working, but it also exposes the company to great risk. The company’s security policy needs to have measures in place that make employees aware of the risks of using mobile devices such as phones, tablets, or laptops. A robust security policy covers aspects including permitted applications, information types, and acceptable device types.
5. Develop Effective Monitoring of IT Systems
Constant and effectual monitoring of network systems is paramount to cyber safety. If a firm lacks the necessary resources from within, there’s always the option of partnering with an established IT security provider. A centralized network allow for easier collection and analysis of all records and security alerts.
Cybercrime continues to be a persistent thorn in the flesh for many brokerage firms and financial institutions. From ransomware, malware, to botnets, the threat of cybercrime is an ever-evolving one. Rest assured, the sphere of cyber crime isn’t napping, and neither should financial firms. It all boils down to vigilance and preparedness.
Sjir has over 15 years of experience in information technology, having done various positions at companies such as Blizzard Entertainment, TV4, and Basefarm. He now wields multiple security, cloud, and IT certifications he currently works as an information security engineer.