Cyber crime is on the minds of business leaders, law enforcement professionals, and politicians everywhere, and there is a good reason for that. As the FBI has reported, cyber crime is a serious and dangerous matter. Modern cyber-attacks have grown more sophisticated and commonplace, and they have a greater capacity to inflict damage on their targets.
Cyber-criminal outfits have steadily grown larger and more profitable, due to the powerful hacking technologies that shield hackers and allow them to get away with large sums and sensitive information. Political volatility also leads to more frequent attacks on high-profile economic targets like American financial institutions, which are attractive to money-seeking cyber crime operations as well.
Because of this, cyber security for finance companies has become one of the most sought-after services in the business world. Though intelligence and law enforcement agencies like the FBI, Homeland Security, and the Justice Department are amplifying their cybersecurity efforts, many private firms are developing solutions of their own to offer additional layers of protection. Financial organizations that invest in their security now will benefit from increased safeguards. The world of digital crime and cyber security certainly deserves a closer look.
Cyber Crime Wave
The economy – and the world for that matter – has become more interconnected than at any time in human history. Thanks to powerful information technologies and internet connectivity, remote corners of the world can communicate with each other in seconds. Though this powerful capability helps to drive commerce and encourage economic growth, it also has a dark side. With greater connectivity comes greater vulnerability to attack. Any device that is connected to a network now has the potential to be infiltrated.
Due to the growth of centralized hosting, and the increasing sophistication of hacking technologies, we are seeing a rapid growth in online attacks that highlight key systemic failures. Cyber attacks differ greatly in size and scope. Smaller attacks on individuals include identity theft, fraud, malware, spear phishing, and other types. For larger scale attacks, cybercriminals usually prefer the Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack.
DDoS attacks are among the most feared by the business community for their scale and power. As several recent high-profile attacks demonstrated, DDoS attacks are growing stronger and more effective every day. During the course of one attack on the financial services industry, large institutions like Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, and PNC Bank were hit first, while many other businesses were disrupted as well.
These attacks left websites down, disrupted transactions, and caused a panic among customers around the world. Destructive attacks like these are usually politically motivated, but there are many smaller attacks that occur in which hackers go after financial assets and customer information. Because of this, traditional cyber security for finance typically doesn’t cut it for the more sophisticated attacks. Cyber security firms have been scrambling to develop better methods of protection for financial institutions.
It is estimated that billions of dollars are lost every year, merely when IT departments go to repair damaged computing infrastructure. Other economic losses include the theft of valuable financial information, economic fraud, and payments to systems like ransomware, which disable critical operations until attackers are paid off.
The true extent of the financial damage is difficult enough to calculate, but the damage to financial services brands is incalculable. Customer trust is one of the key elements to sound finance, and that is one of the first things to go when financial businesses experience repeated outages and disruptions. This is why cyber security for finance has become an integral part of leading companies’ business models.
Finance and Tech Looking to Cyber Security
It is not an understatement to say that the development of robust cyber security measures is critical to the survival of the financial services industry. If a large-scale attack can wipe out several institutions at once and leave them reeling for hours or more, then the threat to customer trust should be taken very seriously.
For financial services businesses, comprehensive cyber security comes down to a numbers game. Yes, smaller businesses are not as visible as larger institutions, and they’re less likely to be targeted by the largest attacks. However, smaller businesses are more vulnerable to various types of attacks. Because hacking technology has become so powerful and simple to use, it is widely available to even the most inexperienced hackers, so it has become much easier to carry out a small attack. This is why we are seeing such a high frequency of attacks in all sizes.
Services that include cyber security for finance are at business leaders fingertips. Just as we are experiencing an unprecedented rise in cyber crime, we are also seeing a renaissance in cyber security measures. CFOs are being called upon to identify risks and determine what safeguards are necessary to ensure the future of their businesses.
Cyber Security Solutions
What exactly does cyber security look like today? Needless to say, these types of services are rapidly evolving to keep up with the changing threats, but there are a few common measures you see in many types of security packages.
Many of the smallest attacks occur because of avoidable mishaps like an opened email, an improperly secured firewall, or an overlooked security loophole. The proper information, a knowledge of best practices, and appropriate training is essential to keep executives and staff vigilant, as even the smallest attacks can do their share of damage.
It is also a good idea for a financial services company to follow the Office of Compliance and Inspection and Examinations (OCIE) guidelines very closely, which vastly cuts down on vulnerabilities. These guidelines are constantly shifting to keep up with changing attack patterns, and a knowledgeable professional can keep companies up to speed on the guidelines.
Cyber security for finance should also include additional protections like a dedicated mitigation team that can constantly scan networks for aberrant behavior. Also important are off-site data management measures, which utilize cloud computing technologies, and increased bandwidth, which helps to protect against DDoS attacks. The more redundancy and overlapping protections that are built into the system, the better finance businesses can fare after the next big attack.
Regardless of whether you manage a multinational corporation or a regional firm, cyber security for finance-related businesses should be a top priority going forward. As online threats evolve, systemic weaknesses are revealed, leaving businesses of all sizes vulnerable to future attacks. If you’d like to determine whether your company is well-prepared, we’re here to help. Contact NIC today for recommendations for your most comprehensive cyber security plan today!