Financial Servicesunit 42

Financial Services Cybersecurity


It should come as no surprise that the financial services industry is one of the most susceptible sectors to cyberattacks. Financial services cybersecurity challenges are on the rise because threat actors and malicious insiders often find banks to be ideal targets against which to conduct potentially lucrative theft and fraud.

In carrying out their activities, cybercriminals take advantage of what drives financial services companies – the trust, integrity, and credibility of their customers. Whether the customers are credit card holders or large organizations with enormous amounts of financial data stored on a bank’s networks, they need to be able to trust in the ability of their financial institutions to protect and safely handle money and information in the most reliable and confidential ways.

Maintaining that trust has never been more challenging, particularly given the ongoing expansion and growing sophistication of cybercrime and cybercriminals. Complicating this challenge is that the entire financial industry is going through a digital transformation, with financial institutions of all sizes introducing new digital tools and advanced technologies to improve the way they serve their customers. While these innovations have brought forth real benefits, they have also increased financial service cyber risks by expanding the attack surfaces for threat actors and providing them with new opportunities to strike.

The focus on protecting financial cybersecurity and banking cybersecurity is growing in prevalence, and here’s why.

Financial Services Cybersecurity Threats are Growing

  • Financial services firms are 300 times more likely than other companies to be targeted by cyber attacks, and the costs of those attacks are higher than for any other sector.1
  • Looking at more than 1,000 of Unit 42’s recent client engagements, financial services was the second most targeted sector, accounting for 14% of security incidents we responded to.
  • Our financial services customers suffered most from business email compromise (BEC) attacks, with nearly one in five of our BEC cases happening in this sector.
  • Financial services is also an industry leader in insider threats (16% of our cases) and in inadvertent exposure incidents (17%).

The Cybersecurity Challenges Facing Financial Services Companies


The cybersecurity stakes are higher for the financial services industry.

Social engineering has been on the increase for some time, and it continues to be one of the most dangerous cyber threats to financial services companies. Using sophisticated techniques to trick company employees or customers with phishing emails that get them to surrender access coordinates, download malware, or transfer money to fake accounts continues to be a method of choice for hackers looking to steal money and data.


Financial services industry changes are leading to new opportunities for threat actors.

The financial services industry is implementing new technology solutions such as cloud computing, artificial intelligence, and digital services including mobile banking. Meanwhile, the emergence of virtual banks is driving further transformation in IT infrastructure across the industry. All of these increase the banking cybersecurity risks for companies and their customers alike.

Are you prepared to manage a cyber attack? Learn more about how Unit 42 can help you with cybersecurity risk management


Financial services insider threats are on the rise.

Despite the advanced techniques malicious actors use to infiltrate an organization’s network, far too many digital break-ins are attributed to insider threats from current or recently-departed employees, and even more so to innocuous errors and lapses in judgment by staff. Threat actors employ sophisticated social engineering methods to exploit this human factor, as well as weak links in the digital relationships that financial services companies may have with partners, vendors, or their own customers.


Healthcare is not the only industry impacted by COVID-19.

According to a recent report, the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic caused a 238% surge in targeted cyber attacks on banks. This spike is not surprising given that cybercriminals seek to line their pockets during times of chaos and uncertainty.


Regulators are actively attempting to curb the damage.

Regulators at the state, federal, and international levels have responded to the growth in financial services cyber attacks by implementing new rules for the financial services institutions they supervise. According to industry data, in the United States alone, more than 30 cybersecurity regulations have been released since 2014.

Unit 42 Cybersecurity Solutions for Financial Services Organizations


Get to know what you don’t know.

As a proactive measure to assess your company’s cyber defenses, Unit 42 experts can conduct a Breach Readiness Review, which quantifies your organization’s ability to identify and respond to cyberattacks, from ransomware to denial-of-service to malicious insider threats. The review process flags any security gaps that need to be addressed immediately while leaving you with a set of specific, actionable recommendations to maintain a higher level cyber defense posture and be ready to respond quickly and effectively to any future intrusion attempts.


Build a cyber defense posture that is up to the task.

Protection starts with initiating safeguards and implementing continuous monitoring capabilities to ensure the delivery of critical infrastructure services. Examples include identifying management and access control, conducting cyber risk awareness training for employees, and implementing information protection processes and procedures. This involves monitoring financial services cybersecurity developments and events to verify the effectiveness of protective measures.


Put your cybersecurity defenses to the test.

Unit 42 offers targeted assessments and technical cybersecurity services to test and evaluate cybersecurity posture and overall cyber resilience, and to verify that security controls are performing optimally and efficiently. These include penetration testing – where we simulate a real-world attack to assess the strength of your countermeasures and identify hidden vulnerabilities – web and mobile application testing, targeted security assessments of your current configurations, phishing exercises, and tabletop exercises that cover customized scenarios based on threats specific to the financial services industry.


Respond to financial services cybersecurity incidents if and when they occur.

The Unit 42 incident response team is ready at a moment’s notice to help financial services organizations investigate, eradicate, and recover from ransomware attacks , as well as from business email compromise, inadvertent disclosures of data, and any other type of incident. Our mission is to immediately stop the attack, expel the intruder, restore systems, and get operations back online as quickly as possible, minimizing downtime – while leveraging data analytics solutions to investigate the extent of exposure and relevant regulatory obligations.


Create a more security-conscious culture.

Unit 42 can help reconfigure work processes and security procedures to narrow the opportunities for threat actors to deceive and exploit your company’s employees, partners, vendors, and customers. Our experts can also create and implement employee training programs on how to recognize and avoid financial services cyber attacks.