The Banking Sector: Cyber Threats To Watch Out For In 2015

Media Division | May 15, 2015

Cyber threats continue to be a leading concern for the banking industry. According to a poll conducted by PwC, capital market and banking executives concluded cyber threats as the second perceived danger to the sector, just behind over-regulation.

The concern is increasing as digital and big data is the future of the banking industry. While the motive of these developments is to enable banks to find ways to better use data for specialized services and promotions through the use of cloud computing, big data analytics and other similar technologies, they are also becoming the gateway for cyber criminals to conduct large-scale attacks.

These attacks are becoming sophisticated in execution and in scope across a global scale, as a finding of a 1 billion fraud against banks indicates. Cyber crime gangs are targeting branches of same banking institutions in different countries, and they are doing so like legitimate businesses.

Banks are lacking security perimeters because in most cases, they identify compromises only after being notified by customer complains. Current intrusion systems are designed to look for signs of known cyber crime, of common attack methods – so when attackers fine tune an attack, or bring something new to the table, they can breach security implementations quite easily.

Threats that should be a concern

In particular, the following attacks planned by cyber criminals present a much steeper challenge to the banking industry:

  • Zero-day attacks: One of the biggest risks banks face at the moment is zero-day attacks. Zero-day attacks exploit weaknesses in banking software before a patch has been created, and the main purpose is to bypass conventional security measures. Cyber criminals often use zero-day exploits to seize control of banking systems and then collect sensitive information about its customers. Furthermore, they may take system into zombie mode to relay spam or spread further malware.
  • Bank heists: Bank heists are conducted by large hacking groups for unprecedented cyber robberies. For instance, the hacking group Carbanak conducted a bank heist in which they managed to steal $1 billion by infiltrating 100 banks in 30 different countries. What was surprising is that it made no difference to the attackers what security software was deployed by the bank. They didn’t need to hack the bank’s services; once inside the network, they learned how to hide their activity behind legitimate banking actions. As a result, bank heists can be done in a very professional manner.
  • Third-party risks: Like other industries, the banking sector is a big mesh of interconnected networks. Banks are being targeted through partners, vendors and other parties, who may not have the resources to implement sophisticated security measures. For instance, the security posture of third-party service providers, such as retailers, can have a profound impact on banking firms. As a result, third-party relationships should be more than an afterthought.

What can be done?

You can’t stop cyber attacks on the banking sector, but you can be vigilant about your own data and accounts. Data-centric security can be an effective solution in this regard. It can help banks figure out what data is being transferred between different networks and endpoints, and how data is distributed across the organization. By figuring out how the data flows, banks can place a monitoring solution, which can notify of any suspicious activity.

Banks can also use Massive’s anti money laundering feed for compliance. This feed provides a constant stream of underground money mule profiles for banking firms, as well as credit scoring and risk management firms. This should also prevent banks from facing fines for hosting money mules and not revealing them.

Massive's Media Division publishes timely news and insights based on current events, trends, and actionable cross-industry expertise.