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Top Cybersecurity Threats to Financial Services in 2020

Financial services make every effort to stay secure, but they still make up at least 35% of all data breaches. According to a Twitter poll in November 2019, the poll concluded that the Banking and Financial sector is battling with a huge number of cyber threats. Banks and financial organizations are a target for hacking. Mitigating data leakages and fraud prevention is a major aspect of the institutions’ security, but it is becoming more difficult as cyber threats such as Wi-Fi hacking and web-based applications evolve and become more sophisticated.

Web-based attacks

Web-based attacks affect the availability of applications, websites, breach the integrity and confidentiality of your data. These web-based attacks typically target applications that have a large database with sensitive and valuable information such as financial firms and banks.


Distributed Denial of Service attacks or DDoS is a malicious attack and attempts to disrupt the normal traffic of a specific service, network or server by overwhelming it with a flood of traffic.

DDoS attacks use several computer systems to act as the sources of the traffic and it can involve other network resources, including the Internet of Things (IoT) devices. In essence, a DDoS attack is more like a traffic jam that clogs up a highway and prevents traffic from getting to its destination.

A DDoS attack involves an attacker who can gain control of an online network of machines. Computers, IoT devices are infected with malicious malware, and each turns into a bot (zombie). The attacker uses a remote control to control the bots, which is known as a botnet.

Botnet attacks cause websites to have slower response times and prevent customers from accessing online trading and banking apps. The attacks may be a diversionary tactic used by cybercriminals looking for an opportunity to steal financial data and commit fraud.

Backdoor and Supply chain attack

Targeted attacks use ‘backdoors’ or applications that are used to gain remote access during the second or third attack stage. Using backdoors, attackers gain access to a network and bypass detection systems. Connect back techniques, port binding, availability of connection abuse, custom DNS and common service protocols are some examples of backdoor attacks.

A supply chain attack is also referred to as a third party or value chain attack. This occurs when a hacker gets into your system via a provider or partner who has access to your data and systems. Monitoring and auditing are the best techniques to detect backdoors or supply chain attacks. A firewall will not be much help but they cannot prevent access from an authentic request

Third-fourth and fifth party vendors

When your organization outsources to a provider, that provider is a third-party provider. If the third-party outsource to another vendor, and that vendor to another, those are fourth and fifth party vendors, and so on.

Managing the risks of these vendors is not easy, and even though you might have strong network security, you must assess the cyber threats to the financial services of a third-party agreement. If they are attacked by malware and ransomware, you have to consider if you will be at risk and who will have the responsibility of protecting the network.

Since you cannot control your third-party vendors, you can decide if you want them to remain as a partner. Whether the third party is a mobile app developer or a cloud provider, you must ensure any vendors you interact with have security measures and ensure the other parties they partner with have secure networks, as may be a long process, but a necessary one to protect yourself from malware.

Global operating risks

Globalization allows businesses to operate across countries, states, different towns with different expectations, languages, and regulations. When an organization increases in operating size, it also increases its operating risks. The threat to the financial services sector increase and hackers target this sector a lot more hoping to get more money from fraud.

Emerging technology

Since technology is always changing, the emerging technologies are very necessary, useful and give your organization a competitive edge. In the financial services sector, IoT and blockchain are already in the pipeline as to how they can be used to bring growth.

These tools, however, come with extra risks, and you can be sure that hackers are way ahead of you, already trying to use IoT and blockchain for attacking networks.

The risks can never be fully mitigated, but you can always defend yourself from these cyber-threats by applying multi-factor authentication and using device patching to solve various vulnerabilities. Wi-Fi hacking prevention means you can prevent hackers from intercepting your data. A possible solution to this is to download a VPN (Virtual Private Network), encrypts your data using the 256-bit AES, ensuring hackers cannot decrypt it even if they get a hold of the data.

If they inadvertently click on the links or open an email attachment, reporting it as soon as possible ensures the situation is caught before it spirals out of control.


The financial services sector is plagued by cyber threats. Hackers know just how much financial data they hold, and how much it is worth in the dark web.

They can also use the data they obtain to steal money from customer accounts. If any financial data were to leak, the financial services firm would be in big trouble. The customers would not only lose trust but also initiate lawsuits, which would cost the firms a lot of money.

These are just some of the cyber threats that dog the financial services firms. Data protection is top on their list of priorities, with Wi-Fi hacking protection also being critical.

Online banking relies on the internet, so the better protected the Wi-Fi is, the harder it is for hacking to occur. A VPN is an ideal way to protect the Wi-Fi, ensuring data is encrypted, location masked and IP address hidden.

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