What does it mean to be “threat ready” in an industry as sensitive as banking? The term is tossed around a lot. But what does that look like for your institution? In simple terms, being threat ready means having the right technology, trained staff, and proactive strategies in place to protect your bank’s assets from cybersecurity threats.
Today, we’ll break down what it really takes to ensure your bank is safeguarded against these challenges.
Why Cybersecurity Is Paramount in the Finance Sector
Money makes the world go round, and where there’s money, there are, unfortunately, potential cybersecurity threats. The finance sector has always been a prime target, and as banking transitions more and more to the digital sphere, the number of banking cyber threats has dramatically increased.
Every time your clients use an ATM, access their online bank account, or even when you communicate interdepartmentally, massive amounts of data are transferred. And any incident with this data can lead to not just financial losses, but also loss of trust, which is invaluable in the banking world.
What Kind of Impact Could a Cyberattack Have on Your Bank?
While every institution is different, the experience of Equifax paints a realistic picture. Back in 2017, a series of preventable disasters led to the incident of 143 million accounts. Because Equifax is such a large financial institution, some estimated that this incident potentially impacted 40% of the US population. Here’s what happened:
- Equifax didn’t patch a well-documented software vulnerability (CVE-2017-5638) for its Open Source development platform, Apache Struts. The solution for CVE-2017-5638 had already been accessible for 6 months by the time the incident happened.
- The company did not adequately compartmentalize its infrastructure, allowing intruders to smoothly transition between numerous servers once they penetrated the web portal.
- Attackers stumbled upon usernames and passwords stored without encryption, utilizing them to gain increased system privileges.
- For an extended period, intruders discreetly extracted data because Equifax overlooked renewing an encryption certificate for one of their internal applications.
Malicious actors exploited a vulnerable system, resulting in a data incident that affected millions. Customers lost faith, share prices plummeted, and the bank had to invest heavily in damage control and systems overhaul. Equifax will still be dealing with settlement payouts until well into 2024, over seven years after the incident.
Beyond monetary damages, the reputational hit can last for years. This story drives home the critical nature of the banking cyber threats we face today.
This was a major corporation with plenty of money to put into cybersecurity. But Equifax’s experience proves that it doesn’t matter how much money you have or how many people are on your IT team—you can still make mistakes that, combined with today’s cybersecurity threats, lead to major risks.
8 Vital Components of Being Threat Ready
To safeguard against such detrimental scenarios, a bank must be “threat ready.” You don’t need access to a huge IT budget or an expert-level in-house IT team. A managed service provider that specializes in the finance industry can give you access to each of these critical components and more:
1. Risk Assessment
Before you guard the fort, you must know where the potential weak points are. Regularly evaluate your IT infrastructure for vulnerabilities.
2. Proactive Plans and Monitoring
Gone are the days of passive firewalls. Banks now need proactive monitoring tools that not only block threats but also predict them.
3. Employee Training and Awareness
The best systems can fail if the human element isn’t trained. Monthly cybersecurity training sessions and drills can make all the difference.
4. Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)
This simple yet effective method ensures that even if passwords are compromised, malicious actors cannot gain access.
5. Incident Response Plan
It’s not about if a cyber threat will hit, but when. And when it does, how quickly and efficiently can your bank respond? A clearly outlined incident response plan is pivotal.
6. Regular Security Updates
Cyber threats evolve daily. Your defense mechanisms need to evolve too. Regular software patches and updates keep the fortress strong.
7. Data Encryption
Encryption ensures that even if data falls into the wrong hands, it remains unintelligible and useless.
8. Third-Party Vendor Risk Management
Your bank’s cybersecurity is only as strong as its weakest link. If third-party vendors aren’t secure, neither are you. Ensuring they adhere to your cybersecurity standards is essential.
While banking cyber threats will continue to pose challenges, being “threat ready” can be the difference between a minor hiccup and a catastrophic incident. It requires consistent effort, investment, and an ever-evolving approach. After all, in the high-stakes world of finance, prevention isn’t just better than cure; it’s essential.
Be Threat Ready With RESULTS Technology
Navigating banking cyber threats can be overwhelming. But with RESULTS Technology, you’ll have a partner that will make your business ready for anything that comes its way. Our comprehensive suite of tools and services offers real-time threat monitoring, tailored security strategies, and expert guidance every step of the way.
Whether you’re looking to patch vulnerabilities, upgrade your systems, or train your staff on avoiding cybersecurity threats, RESULTS Technology can help. Join the many community banks that trust RESULTS Technology to keep them safe!
Schedule a free consultation today.