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4 Cybersecurity Best Practices Financial Firms To Know

IBM X-Force Threat Intelligence Index 2020 has stated the Finance and Insurance sector experienced the highest number of Cybersecurity for the fourth year in a row.

Furthermore, most midmarket companies (with 250-499 employees) surveyed by Cisco experienced a breach, indicating that smaller businesses are becoming an increasingly appealing target. According to the survey, one-fifth of those affected said the breach cost them more than $1 million. And it’s not just small firms that are vulnerable; significant corporations worldwide also see an increase in the number and scope of attacks.

For Financial Services, Security Architecture; Financial institutions should always follow the following best cybersecurity practices to avoid becoming another breach statistic:

Cybersecurity Best Practices For Financial Institutions

1. Create a Formal Security Framework.

There are currently several core security frameworks available to assist financial institutions in more effectively managing cyber risk. These are some examples:

Cybersecurity Framework of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST):

This framework addresses best practices in five key areas of information security: identity, protect, detect, respond, and recover.

The Information Technology Examination Handbook of the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council (FFIEC):

This manual contains a comprehensive list of security guidelines ranging from application security and end-of-life management to vendor management and the rule of most minor request.

Use the NIST and FFIEC guidelines to establish baseline security capabilities that will facilitate compliance with GLBA, PCI DSS, and SOX standards.

2. Provide Knowledge to Your Employees

The vast majority of malware spreads via online social engineering schemes that manipulate unsuspecting users into allowing hackers access to their systems.

One of the most common examples is fileless malware, known as zero-footprint malware. Because they use existing applications rather than attempting to sneak a payload through a web filter, these strains effectively bypass firewalls.

Digital cybersecurity and network protection concept. Virtual locking mechanism to access shared resources. Interactive virtual control screen with padlock. Businessman working at laptop on background

A user may receive an email holding a seemingly legitimate Excel spreadsheet or Word document from an unknown sender. When the recipient downloads the attachment, they may be prompted to enable macros, which are legitimate scripts used to perform specific tasks.

However, that macro will command a remote server to download malware.

Employees are the first line of defence against such threats in your organization. Everyone in the company must learn how to spot phishing schemes. Attachments with no context or ambiguous subject lines, for example, are dead giveaways, even if sent by a known contact.

Employees should be taught these identification techniques as well as other financial security best practices, such as password managers and logging out of devices before leaving them unattended, to reduce the risk of user-driven compromise significantly.

3 Carry out Continuous Threat Monitoring

It is critical to monitor threats 24 hours a day, seven days a week, especially in finance, because the real damage is often done when you are caught off guard. Indeed, according to our Security Operations Report, 35% of threats were detected between 8 p.m. and 8 a.m.

The vast majority of data breaches are covert. To remain persistent, hackers will attempt to cover their tracks once they have gained access to your network. They infiltrate the system, possibly by stealing login credentials through a phishing campaign and then attempting to conceal their activity through various advanced techniques.

One of the brazen attacks on a financial institution to date, hackers operated the SWIFT banking network wire themselves $81 million in 2006 after breaching the Bangladesh Central Bank through a series of phishing frauds.

This and similar incidents highlight the importance of real-time threat monitoring. The sooner you detect a sign of compromise, the sooner you can take action to protect your financial institution. Early detection can indicate the difference between a minor setback and a significant downturn.

 4. Assess and Manage Vulnerabilities

According to the IBM X-Force report, over 140,000 software vulnerabilities have been reported in the last three years, a significant increase over previous years. Furthermore, organizations had an average of 1,440 unique vulnerabilities. The researchers noted that this was due to a high attack surface, as the adoption of new technology such as (IoT)Internet of Things adds more contact points for attackers to exploit.

With the average organization deploying 129 apps, bad actors have plenty of opportunities to find flaws. And that’s just the apps that IT is aware of—shadow IT raises the stakes. According to Gartner, darken IT will be used in one-third of successful attacks next year.

Even with the expert IT teams and technology, no organization can address all vulnerabilities. This is where a vulnerability assessment can help. They assist you by:

  • Gain visibility across your domain, allowing you to identify which software and systems are vulnerable.
  • Prioritize the most crucial vulnerabilities so that they can be addressed first.

One of the most practical ways to reduce your attack surface is vulnerability management. However, it must be done regularly. Even if you run vulnerability scans regularly, opportunistic attackers will find their way in.

Red Note: 30 September 2022

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