In 2016, financial services organisations have been under attack like never before, with a series of high profile data breaches that have rocked the global financial system. The February theft of $81m from the Bangladesh central bank was significant – not least because of the huge sums involved but because it targeted Swift, the very backbone of the international banking system. The act continues to be investigated and just last week the U.S. attorney said ‘people should be horrified’ about the attack.
There’s been at least ten breaches since, with banks in Qatar, the UAE, Nigeria, Nepal and Sri Lanka amongst those affected. What’s interesting is that, with the Bangladesh case aside, the motivation behind these crimes is not always financial, and the data compromised from the affected companies was published and made freely available online. Whilst we can only speculate as to the motivation behind these crimes, they often happen for ideological or political reasons in an attempt to seek to damage a bank’s reputation and cause consternation amongst its customer base.
What does this mean for the financial services sector? Simply, there is a realistic possibility that we will see further claims of data breaches against financial services organisations – and not necessarily from the motivation of financial gain. The threats against financial services companies therefore have arguably never been so complex.
To combat this upward trend in cybercrime, there is an acute need for organisations to understand which malicious actors may target them, why, and their methods of attack. This means being on the ‘front foot’ and (for instance) being informed about what potential attackers are saying about their organisation and the financial services sector generally on criminal forums.
Gaining this cyber situational awareness means that firms can make more informed decisions about where and how to focus their security resources.
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