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Your Financial Institution Cyberattack Risks Are Real: Are You Ready?

For a financial institution, cyberattacks are a top concern and no wonder: financial services account for 35% of all data breaches and are 300 times more likely to be attacked than other verticals.

Naturally, the criminals are following the money. They are getting more sophisticated with each passing year, adding extortion, fraud, and theft to their bag of tricks. It’s time to take a good look at your financial institution cybersecurity strategies; is your plan up to the challenges?

If you’re on the fence about getting a cybersecurity strategy overhaul for your financial organization, look at the current trends placing your company squarely in the crosshairs.

Spear Phishing

Ah, our old friend spear phishing. Welcome to a world where you can’t trust anyone and your employees will be your biggest threat. When a hacker uses spear phishing, s/he sends emails that appear to be from a known, trusted source. These emails request confidential information, such as log in information, passwords, and other sensitive data. Employees, thinking they are providing information to a CEO or CFO, hand over the information without another thought. Who wouldn’t want to help the Big Cheese?  This popular cybersecurity attack is also known as “business email compromise,” or BEC.

ATM Malware

You go up, you insert your card, you tap in a few numbers, and a machine happily spits money into your hand, you take your card and go on with your day. That’s what should happen, in a perfect world.

Hackers, never failing to disappoint, developed ATM specific malware called GreenDispenser. This malware allows the bad actors to withdraw enormous sums of money while flying under the radar of detection. The group Carbanak targeted financial institutions by infiltrating their internal networks and installing malware that drained ATMs of cash.

Reverse ATM attacks are a newer, growing problem. PoS terminals are targeted, with money mules reversing transactions after money is transferred or withdrawn. Financial institution cyberattacks were addressed in October 2015, when ATM and credit cards were required to have a Chip and Pin system or an EMV.

The group Carbanak targeted financial institutions by infiltrating their internal networks and installing malware that drained ATMs of cash.

PoS malware specifically targets terminals to steal customer data during checkout at stores. These attacks are the famous “card skimmer” attacks; bad actors use a memory scraper that detects unencrypted credit card data which is sent back to the hacker. At that point, the hacker will use the information for his own gain or sell the information on the dark web.


Imagine a world where your employees and customers can’t access your network. What would that look like for you? Your customers? Your employees? How much downtime can your financial organization afford?

DDoS is not exclusive to the financial sector, but it’s another disturbing financial institution cyberattack. Distributed Denial of Service occurs when a bad actor overwhelms a network with false traffic and multiple comprised networks.

Sometimes, just disrupting your daily operations is enough; other times, the cybercriminal follows up their action with a payment demand in exchange for freeing your network. Financial institutions rely on their internet service provider to redirect the false traffic and share information about these attacks amongst each other through organizations like FS-ISAC4.

Credential and Identity Theft

Hackers use Trojans like Dridex to infect computers and networks. Like all Trojans, it requires a human interaction to be introduced into the network, mostly by unwary users clicking on them in a phishing email. Once the malware is in the network it quickly gets busy spreading throughout all the computers and the entire network, stealing credentials, account information, and your customers’ money as it goes.

Social Media Attacks

Facebook isn’t always your friend. Hackers can create a financial institution cyberattack by using a fake profile on the social media sites you know and trust. Unsuspecting visitors to that profile or page will give the bad actors all the information they need for social engineering attacks.

Facebook and Twitter are rising to the challenge of these attacks with new regulations like the general Data Protection Regulation. They have tightened privacy and security policies to try to protect their users. Still, you can’t afford to overlook this financial institution cyberattack; the fallout of social media attacks and the related data loss could cripple your business.

Financial Institution Cyberattacks: Are You Prepared?

Things are always changing in the world of financial institution cyberattacks. New trends, such as the rise of virtual money (cryptocurrency) and the attacks that go along with it (cryptojacking) means that you may never be able to keep up. Added to the “bad actors list” is organized crime, such as paid state actors and syndicates.

Even worse, most hackers use more than one method of attack to capitalize on the incident. If your financial organization has been targeted before, you’re not safe; your odds of a repeated financial institution cyberattack increase after the first threat is recognized. Cybercriminals will keep chipping away at your security wall, brick by brick, until they find the weakest block and break through.

Iconic IT doesn’t believe in skimping on coverage for our clients. Unlike most MSPs that offer bare-bones services, we have plans as vast as the national parks they are named after. To us, anything else is underserving. We give you have the guidance and supplies you need, like a park ranger helping you through the forests and mountains of your IT issues and needs.

Let Iconic IT give your cybersecurity strategy a once-over with a free assessment. You’ll learn where your solutions are rock solid and where you need to shore them up. As a bonus, we will help you make sure you are compliant with the rules and regulations governing your vertical. Contact us today.

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