Cloud Security Services

Cybersecurity in banking and financial services: Challenges and solutions

Posted on April 21, 2022

Estimated reading time 2 minutes

Financial institutions are prime targets for cyber attacks nowadays.

VMware’s Modern Bank Heist report showed that attacks grew by 238% between February and April 2020. What’s worse is that today’s attacks are becoming more sophisticated and frequent, meaning organisations must fundamentally rethink their IT security to account for both.

With threats originating from state-sponsored groups to lone opportunists using off-the-shelf malware, cybersecurity in banking has never been more critical. It only takes one vulnerable end-point for a successful breach.

Using the latest cloud-first tools, you can protect your organisation’s data and devices via a bottom-up identity based model  and a Zero Trust approach. Learn more about the challenges of cybersecurity in banking, and discover the possibilities of decentralised security and real-time analytics tools.

IT security challenges unique to FinServ companies

It’s no secret that cyberattacks have been on the rise over the past two years. Yet, banks and other financial services firms face unique challenges within their IT security workload.

“Cybercriminals have dramatically increased their knowledge of the policies and procedures of financial institutions. They are keenly aware of the incident response (IR) stratagems being employed by IR teams and the blind spots that exist within every institution.” – VMware’s Modern Bank Heist report

Hackers primarily target FinServs because of their valuable data and asset portfolios. Typically,  threat actors try to infiltrate IT systems and exploit network vulnerabilities to steal data and money. For example, recent data shows wire fraud transfer attempts have increased by 17% since 2019.

However, sometimes disruption is the intended goal as hostile nations, already rich in cash, switch to digital espionage campaigns and cyberattacks for geopolitical gain.

An unfortunate outcome of the digital transformation era in banking is the proliferation of vulnerable devices. A larger digital footprint brings an equally large attack surface.

Therefore, cybersecurity in banking and financial services can no longer remain along the lines of attack prevention. Instead, senior leaders must find ways to mitigate risks at an identity and endpoint level and do so proactively.

Phishing remains the most common attack vector, and 30% of breaches were caused by internal staff, meaning minor, accidental lapses in your IT network security can spell disaster.

Major FinServ hacks to date

What is the true scale of cybercrime in banking? Let’s consider some major hacks to financial service breaches over the last few years.

Infamously, in February 2016, hackers targeted Bangladesh’s central bank and exploited vulnerabilities in the SWIFT network. While most transactions were blocked in time, US$101 million were successfully stolen. In the words of the IMF, this heist was something of a ‘wake-up call’ for the industry.

Researchers recently discovered a new Android banking Trojan in October 2021 called SharkBot. The virus targeted UK and Italian banks and tricked users into downloading malicious apps before intercepting 2FA messages and transferring funds.

IT network security is truly an arms race, placing a growing burden on FinServ organisations to innovate and protect their data.

Modern solutions for cybersecurity in banking

What can senior leaders do to refine their IT security?

As a leading Microsoft solutions provider, we recommend a customised technology strategy roadmap that embeds security within your IT assets without compromising your operational agility.

  • Implementing a zero trust model: Zero-trust is the new industry model of organisational security and minimises vulnerabilities within your IT network security.
  • Identity-based network access: Identity-based permissions provide employees with access to all the files and software they need but no more, while time-linked access rights prohibit permissions from creeping up — limiting vulnerabilities over time.
  • Modern end-point management: Each device is yet another way for threat actors to access your network. Therefore, you can safeguard your network and data by securing the devices that access it.

IT security outcomes

When combined, the above security roadmap provides you with:

  • Total visibility over your network activity and permission configurations
  • A proactive approach to protecting against attacks and near-real-time alerts and remediation
  • Real-time insights on your utilisation and cloud-spend, helping you identify more efficient ways of working
  • Simplified compliance, helping you adhere to security best practices, company policies and regulatory standards

How can Atech help?

We have a Gold Partner award in Security from Microsoft, meaning we’re highly experienced in Microsoft cloud tools and security solution deployment and we bring this insight and experience to our clients.
Our team is extremely passionate about cybersecurity and continually scans the tech horizon for new threat methods and cloud innovations.

As a result, we’re at the forefront of cybersecurity challenges across multiple sectors. We offer tailored solutions against the latest threats to cybersecurity in banking and financial service organisations.

These solutions include deploying AI-cloud tools like Microsoft Sentinel, helping you combat the increasing volume of breach attempts and access the world’s largest threat database.
However, we also provide solutions to account for social engineering threat vectors, like BEC protections for senior leaders and simulated phishing attacks, for a comprehensive approach to tackle both the technical and human aspects of security.

Stay ahead in the arms race of IT network security

The threat to financial service firms will only continue to grow as hacking tools become increasingly available to global threat actors.

Equip your organisation with AI-enabled IT network security tools and secure your data from breaches using an identity-based Zero Trust network model.

Azure technologies provide leading security protections without sacrificing productivity, meaning you can stay competitive in today’s dynamic FinTech landscape.

Access leading financial services cybersecurity protections with Atech

Atech holds nine Microsoft Gold Partner awards and is a leading UK provider of cloud security solutions.

We have extensive experience in helping growing FinServ clients address security gaps for today’s challenges, without harming organisational agility.

Get in touch to learn more about our expertise and services, and ensure robust data governance and a proactive cybersecurity strategy today.

James Pearse
James Pearse CTO

James is the CTO at Atech and leads the team of Security Architects and SOC analysts to deliver an intelligent, proactive and tailored service. He helps our customers unlock the potential of Microsoft Security.

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