The financial industry is a hot spot to attack

Latest Update: 20/10/2023

The financial industry is a hot spot to attack

Recently, the financial industry has been struggling because it has become a target of cybercriminals. Web application attacks on financial services increased by 38% in the first half of 2021. It can be seen that website security is becoming a “headache” for financial institutions. The following article will share the reasons that hackers target the financial industry. Along with that are solutions to help businesses protect their websites safely.

Alarm bells for financial industry security websites

In the middle of the last century, Willie Sutton’s bank robbery caused a stir in public opinion. This professional bank robber stole 2 million US dollars. A journalist asked Sutton why he chose the bank as a target. “Because that’s where the money is,” he replied. However, in later interviews, Sutton denied this statement. Either way, that still impacts the financial industry to this day.

Although old-fashioned bank robberies cannot be ruled out. But now, the currency that cybercriminals are targeting is personal data. They attack the web applications of customers, partners, and employees. After taking over the victim’s account, the hacker will perform a series of online financial transactions.

The COVID-19 epidemic has spurred the development of the online banking sector. The loss of important customer data has also increased significantly. From January to May 2021, web application attacks on the financial industry increased by 38%. It is an alarm bell for financial institutions about website security.

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Website application attacks increase in 2021

Cybercriminals attack the web application security system of financial institutions

Sensitive data breach

Online banking and digital transformation are booming in the financial sector. That means organizations need to manage large amounts of complex data. At the same time, data privacy laws are also gradually tightening. Data protection and website security are becoming an unprecedented challenge.

Because of the pace of change in the industry, security measures are applied to all data warehouses without classification. This leaves many financial services institutions at increased risk and vulnerability to data breaches. As a result, data theft attacks are escalating at an alarming rate. More than 870 million records were compromised in January 2021 alone. This is more than the total number of records breached in the whole of 2017.

DDoS attack

DDoS attacks target the top layer or application layer (Layer 7) of the OSI model. The purpose is to make a connection over the internet protocol. After that, the attacker will massively send a large amount of traffic requesting access to the server. When the server is no longer responsive, the system will crash.

The higher the number of requests per second (RPS), the more intense the attack. Since April 2021, the RPS of Layer 7 DDoS attacks on this industry has tripled. According to the Digital Banking Report, “enhancing the customer experience in the banking sector” is a top goal for financial service providers. Customers will certainly not be satisfied when they cannot access online banking services. They will complain about social networking sites and switch to another provider. This affects the reputation of the bank.

Financial companies that have the ability to invest a budget for good security services will be prioritized by users. From there, it will increase the ability to upsell or cross-sell other products and services of the company.

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Layer 7 DDoS attack on the financial services industry

The RDoS threat

By the end of 2020, the number of denial of service (RDoS) threats has increased significantly. The target of the attack is thousands of large commercial organizations around the world. Includes many organizations in the financial services sector.

RDoS have distributed denial of service (DDoS) threats. Hackers use ransomware to gain money. Attackers impersonate famous hackers in extortion emails to demand bitcoins. If the victim does not accept the agreement, the consequences will be DDoS attacks against their network.

In the first half of this year, RDoS threats to website security systems are increasing. The attack scenario on the website’s security system this year is quite similar to the previous year, in which:

  1. The blackmailer sends an email, sometimes accompanied by a warm-up attack to threaten (usually taking the company offline for a short period of time).

  2. Target is notified a week in advance to pay in order.

  3. The blackmailer threatens to return with a larger attack at a set time.

Client-side attacks

Client-side attacks occur when a user downloads malicious content from a website. Hackers take advantage of this to infiltrate the website. They intercept user sessions, insert hateful content, and perform phishing attacks. In financial services, hackers will exploit third-party scripts. These scripts are used by thousands of websites in many industries. They will then skim the payment information.

Financial websites are gradually relying on third-party scripts to better serve their customers. But due to the huge number of digital transactions to process financial transactions and other data. So financial websites are the target of attacks from customers. Obtaining credit card information, hackers will use them to make purchases. Or they will sell to other criminals. In both cases, the consequences are very unpredictable. Neither the user nor the financial service provider knows until it happens.

Supply chain attacks

Since 1999, Common Vulnerability and Vulnerability (CVE) systems have reported more than 150,000 CVEs – zero-day vulnerabilities – in popular applications and software. Of these, more than 11,500 are critical (although it is generally understood that the majority of software vulnerabilities remain unreported).

The entire financial services process integrates a complex set of software applications involving back-office, back-office, risk management, business developers, finance, and IT. Application programming interfaces (APIs) are at the core of these applications. It allows them to communicate with each other. APIs are often self-documenting information. For example, their implementation and internal structure can serve as intelligence. Based on that information, hackers will attack the supply chain software.

Factors such as weak authentication codes, lack of encryption, business logic vulnerabilities, and insecure endpoints make APIs even more vulnerable. As financial services organizations partner with other companies to provide and receive services, the supply chain attack surface grows and increases the risk of attack.

The weak website security system of the supply chain makes businesses vulnerable to attacks. Cybercriminals are well aware of vulnerabilities in software applications and APIs. They will find a way to bypass the website security system and harm your business. This is because an organization’s software is not proprietary. Attackers will seek to exploit many different types of software applications that a company may be using.

Since the Sunburst attack in late 2020 and others after that, many expect organizations to increase the security of their websites. But that did not happen. Therefore, regulatory agencies are forced to step in. The Monetary Authority of Singapore and the FFIEC (Federal Financial Institutions Inspection Council) in the US have issued new guidance for supply chain revitalization in the sector. Furthermore, in April 2021, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Agency (CISA) and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) released new guidance on how to defend against supply chain risks. different software applications.

Hackers bypass the security system of the website to steal what data?

According to statistics from a cybersecurity organization, 74% of data stolen in the past few years is personal data. Thieves can privately exploit this information. Or they combine with other information to identify, contact or locate an individual.

A widespread personal data breach is a wake-up call for website security. Many organizations do not have adequate protections in place. In many cases, it is even easier for hackers to steal personal data from financial institutions than in other industries. Because those data are frequently shared between systems, users, and providers.

Personal data protection regulations are becoming more stringent. Organizations must identify and classify personal data across their entire systems. Only if they know where they are stored, what applications and users are accessing them. Only then can they extend the security measures to protect that data.

Website application security solutions for businesses

First, make sure you can control the data. Only then can you protect it and all the paths to it. Your organization’s websites, applications, and APIs are automatically protected. And that does not affect the important traffic flow of the business. It must also resist DDoS attacks and account takeovers outside the network.

To ensure website security in the financial industry, you must equip yourself with advanced protection solutions such as web application firewall (WAF), bot management, uptime, and API protection. Detect and tag sensitive personal data and enrich and correlate it to provide precise behavioral analytics to prevent and mitigate threats. This allows you to automate the extension of security controls to all data. Whether it’s On-Premise or cloud-based data, the data is current and stored. Ensure ongoing compliance, governance, and security reporting for all data sources.

Financial institutions in particular and businesses, in general, should raise their vigilance. The tricks of cybercriminals are unpredictable. Therefore, website application security solutions are essential. If you are wondering about website security solutions, please refer to the list of the most trusted anti-DDoS services today. Important is not the best solution, it is the solution that best suits the business.

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