Against the backdrop of a global pandemic, businesses experienced significant disruptions, underwent technological transformations and had to rethink plans for sustainable, long-term growth. Banks and insurance firms were no exception. New opportunities arose all around. However, cyber criminals often capitalized on available opportunities before legitimate enterprises could do so. As a result, organizations have suffered.1
Nearly 75% of banks and insurance groups have reported a spike in cyber crime. With skeleton
staffing and slashed budgets, cyber threats are ravaging the finance sector. For example, in
2021, the Reserve Bank of New Zealand reported a data breach involving a third-party file
sharing application. The Bank estimated that total costs hovered around the $3.5 million mark.
Earlier in the year, the country’s stock exchange found itself battling a Distributed Denial of
Service (DDoS) attack. Stock Exchange operations incurred disruption for four consecutive days.2
Around the same point in time, American Express accidentally enabled a hacker to leak
customer data belonging to 10,000 credit card holders. The information appeared publicly in an
underground online forum. A financial institution’s cyber data represents the crown jewels for cyber criminals, who can monetize the stolen loot on the dark web. In the financial services sector, the average cost of a data breach tops $5 million USD, which is higher than the average cost cross all other sectors (at $3.86 million USD).
In this paper, we’ll explore financial services’ major cyber threats. The growing need for cyber security of financial institutions can be seen in their claim to fame as the largest and fastest growing private sector cyber security market.3 We’ll also propose what security leadership can do to help prevent cyber attacks and safeguard sensitive financial data.
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1 “Reserve Bank taking action to respond to data breach reports” RBNZ, May 31, 2021
2 “Special report: Security for financial firms 2021,” Cyber Talk, June 25, 2021
3 “U.S. Financial Services: U.S. Financial Services: Cybersecurity Systems & Services Market – 2016-2020″
Cyber Security Market Report, Kenneth Research