Within the global sector of cybersecurity, the two major areas that are constantly under attack are finance and government. Financial organizations that hold consumer data, in particular those that provide financial services to retail and commercial customers like banks, investment companies, real estate firms, retail banking, and insurance companies, are an obvious target for the simple fact that this is where the money is. At the end of the day, unless an attack is of a personal nature, in which the reputation of an individual or business is targeted, monetary assets are always the goal.

Now imagine a cyberthreat the same as you would a burglar walking down the street. When a thief leaves their home, they do not necessarily know what they are going to target, unless they have done some reconnaissance and are after something specific. In most cases, however, the target itself is not premeditated — a house that is more vulnerable and has less defenses will always be the first point of call. Given the choice between a house with an open window and lights out and a house with attack dogs, security cameras, and search lights, nine times out of 10, a burglar will take the opportunity to infiltrate the house with the open window. Why? Because it is easier and quicker to break into this house successfully.

The same applies within the finance industry. If there is a vulnerability, it will be the first target. In response, banks and financial institutions require tailored and sophisticated security to support their systems and people and to defend against an onslaught of complex and aggressive cyberattacks. Not only must security compliance within the financial sector be tenfold, but it is essential that security precautions evolve to mirror the growing threat landscape.

But as new cyberthreats develop daily, this is easier said than done.

Anti-Fraud Systems 

To uphold compliance with elements, such as GDPR, anti-fraud systems within the finance industry have developed significantly over the last few years to safeguard credentials. To do this, a combination of key codes, two-factor authentication, voice ID, behavioral analysis, one-time pass codes, protective messaging, and digital fingerprinting have been widely integrated.  

But cybercriminals have an accurate knowledge of the internal workings of banking systems. And, in 2019, an arena known on the dark web as Genesis Market was uncovered, where stolen digital fingerprints are sold.

According to Darknet stats, Genesis Market is accessible by invitation alone. Once in, not only are fingerprints available, but so are passwords, credit card information, cookies and more.

It is no wonder that retina scanners are developing in the biometrics/banking sphere.

Internal Threats

It can be argued that the reason why many cybercriminals know so much about the inner workings of financial organizations is because, at one point or another, many worked legitimately within the industry. Internal teams pose as much of a threat as external attacks. But whether an attack is malicious or accidental, internal security breaches are regular occurrences. Which us why user behavior analytics is crucial to understand the actions within a team and to highlight and stop unusual activity before the damage is done. 

Another element that is important to recognize with regard to internal threats is that many employees/insiders are completely unaware they are a threat in the first place. Take, for instance, an employee working remotely. This employee may be at a local café where they decide to work on a company device. If this device was unknowingly hacked while using a different Wi-Fi, the user may be completely unaware they are spreading malicious malware via their device throughout the company.


Say a crime group has gained access to personal accounts. The next logical step is to blackmail the victim/organization via ransomware. Unfortunately, as a public security breach would cause mass panic and many potential lawsuits, banks will often pay off cybercriminals into an anonymous cryptocurrency account, rather than lose client data. Crime groups know this.

Sometimes victims speak out, but this does not always end well. For financial organizations, ransomware can and will destroy a whole business.  

App Developments

Apps surrounding investment and finance have grown substantially in 2020. This, in part, is a good thing, as the ability to invest online is quick, easy, and accessible to all. But due to the demand, many of these apps were developed quickly and are underprepared for cyberattacks.

For instance, many do not provide two-factor authentication, are not supported by the appropriate regulations, are not patched or maintained properly, and do not have contingency plans in place to mitigate the effects of a cyberattack. As a result, personal information is relatively easy to steal and sell. This can be done by creating duplicate fraudulent apps to trick users. On these duplicate apps, the imagery and language of the genuine app is mirrored. And, once the personal information is supplied, both real and virtual money is then accessible. Thus, the circle of ransomware ensues. 

Third-Party Risk

These days, few organizations work on their own. The majority use third parties, including vendors, partners, email providers, service providers, web hosting, law firms, data management companies, subcontractors, and so on.

According to Ponemon Institute, “53% of organizations have experienced one or more data breaches caused by a third party, costing an average of $7.5 million to remediate.” For a large organization, this can be crippling; for a small organization, it can be obliterating.

To manage third parties, financial organizations must be able to detect and respond to threats, which requires the right combination of people, processes, and technologies.

Half the battle is locating vulnerabilities in the first place, but this is where investing in the best managed security services comes in. From firewall management to decoy deception and honeypots, it is important to know what services are best based on location, company size, current security measures, and more.


Cyberthreats will continue to grow into 2021. That much is clear.

Effective security comes down to three key elements: processes, people, and technology. In times like these, security measures are more crucial than ever — especially for those within finance.