Stay Ahead of Financial Institution Cybersecurity

It wasn’t too long ago that financial institutions relied heavily on physical security service to keep thieves at bay. From armed guards to impenetrable vaults, banks were incredibly knowledgeable on how to keep their physical assets secure. However, thieves no longer need to physically break into financial institutions to steal. They can simply break through a bank’s vulnerable computer network from the comfort of their own home.

Unfortunately, cyber crime is on the rise across industries, but easy targets include banks, brokerage firms, investment dealers and insurance companies. There are a multitude of ways that a financial institution cyber security threat can wreak havoc – by stealing funds, capturing sensitive client information, or planting ransomware that renders financial systems useless till the ransom is paid.

While hackers are increasingly finding a multitude of methods to defeat internet security, many financial service providers lack the most basic information cyber security safeguards. Many don’t have strong firewalls that analyze and filter both incoming and outgoing traffic. Employees cling to easily guessed passwords and IT staff fall behind on installing software patches that fix known security bugs.

Having poor cyber security hygiene is costly for any industry, but particularly for financial institutions since a compromise in cyber security could also create compliance issues that subject them to additional fines and fees. Notwithstanding, clients entrust financial service providers with their money and personal information. Failing to protect their clients’ information could damage a brand significantly.

To secure these assets, take these proactive steps to address an emerging financial institution cyber security threat:

    • Evaluate Current Cyber Security Capabilities

Every finance security firm must evaluate its current procedures and digital security technology. Federal Reserve banks expect users of its payment systems to conduct annual self-assessments of their compliance with security requirements. Employees may need PC firewalls, antivirus software, USB security tokens and secure file transfer software. Desktop support personnel may need additional training or support to provide the proper configuration or instruct end users in safe online practices.

    • Perform Routine Data Testing

The IBM X-Force Threat Intelligence Index lists ransomware as the most popular attack method. New ransomware variants are constantly in circulation, and the most effective response is to perform continuous security testing to reveal network vulnerabilities and show how to respond quickly and effectively to a cyber breach. Manual penetration testing or automated breach and cyber attack simulation demonstrates how effective a financial service firm’s many security barriers work at stopping intrusions. They give finance security professionals more confidence that their current systems will endure new threats.

    • Strengthen Financial Institution Cyber Security Threat Policies

The strongest cyber security protections can’t keep hackers out if a single employee lets them unwittingly or purposely in the network. The easiest way for cyber criminals to attack financial systems is via increasingly sophisticated spear phishing emails, which trick employees into providing system access. For instance, hackers can use a very slight alteration of a trusted partner’s website or email address to request passwords. In addition, cyber criminals utilize a tactic known as “shoulder surfing” to collect sensitive information shared publicly. Cyber security consultants can introduce best practices and enforce security protocols by providing personnel training and compliance services.

    • Have a Cyber Threat Response Plan

Among the highest priorities a financial services institution can undertake is to have a cyber security playbook to follow in case of a successful intrusion. It should establish emergency contacts in an incidence response team and give each member a clear idea of what role to play when contacted. An information security policy should address how sensitive information gets handled. Just as important are establishing ways to verify multiple threats and assign each a priority. Finally, financial services firms will have a list of law enforcement and regulatory authorities to immediately notify in the event of a breach.

    • Perform a Cyber Security Audit

Just as finance professionals know the value of a financial audit, a top-to-bottom review of a cybersecurity system can shore up vulnerabilities and improve the stance and substance of a company’s defenses. An information security review covers key assets, current security strategy, countermeasures and IT infrastructure—prioritizing top vulnerabilities, risks and recommended security control solutions.

While a financial institution cyber threat will never disappear from the financial services world, seeking the right help will make a world of difference. Trained cyber security engineers can maintain backups, monitor systems 24/7, respond quickly to cyber assaults and teach employees best practices to prevent attacks from happening. Putting finance security safeguards in place secures assets, data, and most importantly, the trust of customers.

The Cyber Security Division of AGB Investigative Services offers end-to-end cyber security solutions including Security Operations Center-as-a-service, IT security consulting, comprehensive risk assessments, penetration testing, social engineering and a special focus on securing employees working from home. Learn more about what we do at

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