Protecting Retail Banks from Digital Risks

Attomus / Blog

We are delighted to have another guest post from Regi Publico, looking at how retail banking needs to respond to the ever evolving cyber landscape.

Cybersecurity Threats in the Banking Industry: Protecting Retail Banks from Digital Risks

The banking industry faces some of the strictest regulations globally. This industry plays a critical role in providing essential financial services to millions of people around the globe. As such, it is highly vulnerable to all types of threats, be it physical or digital. And as technology evolves, the banking industry becomes more vulnerable to cyber-attacks. This is because of its extensive reliance on technology-based data storage systems. 

There are several cybersecurity threats that banks must be aware of to protect their client’s funds, assets, and information. These threats include viruses and malware, phishing attacks, and social engineering scams, among others. Malicious individuals or organisations pose these threats as they seek to exploit weaknesses in banks’ systems. 

For banks to protect their clients and assets, they must remain vigilant against these digital risks and keep themselves updated on different scam attempts to watch out for. This article will discuss some of the most common cybersecurity threats in the banking industry and provide tips on how to protect retail banks from these digital risks. 

Hacker sitting at computer targeting a bank system

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1. Phishing Attacks

The first threat that banks should be aware of is phishing attacks. This type of attack involves sending emails or other electronic messages that appear to be from a legitimate source, such as a bank. But these attacks are attempting to gain access to sensitive information. These messages may contain malicious links or attachments that can download malware onto a user’s computer, allowing attackers to gain access to their system and data. 

For example, you may receive a message from an unknown sender claiming to be your bank. The message usually asks for personal information such as account details, login IDs, or passwords. Clients who are unaware may end up providing the information, instantly giving the attackers access to their accounts. 

Thus, banks should ensure that they have an effective system in place to identify and block phishing emails before they reach their clients’ inboxes. They must remain vigilant in ensuring that all client-facing emails are sent from legitimate sources, and use email security features such as DMARC so clients can be confident of the email source. Clients can also be educated - such as knowing to verify the sender’s email address before opening any attachments or clicking on any links. Plus, banks should also provide employees with training to recognise the signs of a phishing attack themselves and how to best respond in these situations. 

2. Malware and Viruses

Malware is malicious software that can be used by hackers to gain access to banking systems and data. This includes viruses, Trojans, worm-based attacks, rootkits, spyware, and ransomware. These malicious programs are designed to damage, disrupt, or take control of a computer system without the user’s knowledge. 

The best way for banks to protect themselves from these types of attacks is by implementing robust security measures, far and beyond the corporate norm of firewalls, antivirus software, and strong password policies. Banks should also ensure that their employees are well-trained in cybersecurity best practices, such as never clicking on suspicious links or attachments. 

3. Social Engineering Scams

Social engineering scams involve manipulating people into providing personal information or access to bank accounts. Common methods include sending phishing emails, text messages, and phone calls. Attackers can also use these techniques to try and convince people to transfer funds or install malicious software on their computers. 

Banks should ensure that they have adequate security measures in place to combat social engineering scams. They can mandate clients to use security features such as user authentication protocols and two-factor authentication. Additionally, banks should educate their clients about the different types of scams out there! When the clients are aware of what they may face and how to spot them, this adds another layer of protection for their savings. 

4. Supply Chain Vulnerability

Banks should also be aware of the risks posed by supply chain vulnerabilities. Supply chain attacks involve compromising third-party vendors or suppliers to gain access to sensitive banking data. Attackers may exploit these vulnerabilities to gain access to client information, financial records, and other confidential information. 

Banks should ensure that they thoroughly vet their vendors and suppliers before entering into a partnership with them, and permit the bank to audit their suppliers - to ensure for example that their vendors are using up-to-date security measures and data encryption protocols to protect client data. 

5. Cloud-based Data Security

Finally, banks should be aware of the risks posed by cloud-based data security. Cloud storage and computing are becoming increasingly popular in the banking industry (particularly in the US where there are hundreds of smaller banks instead of the large leaders that are seen in Europe) but this also opens up new opportunities for cyber-attacks. Banks must ensure that they have robust security measures in place to protect data stored on the cloud platform as they are rich targets and attackers will target the easier targets present in the US than those larger banks found in Europe.

Regardless of geography, this becomes more acute and important for those banks that employ remote workers. Having remote access makes it easier for hackers to gain access to confidential data. So, banks must install security measures, including encrypting all data stored on the cloud and enforcing strict access controls. They must also make sure to scan for vulnerabilities regularly both at the edge and on remote machines.

Final Word

The banking industry is constantly evolving. With the technology available today, banks must remain vigilant against the different types of digital risks! These risks can threaten their clients’ funds and data, losing trust between clients and banks. 

The end goal should always be to protect clients’ funds, assets, and information from any digital risk that banks may encounter. Following the steps outlined in this article will help ensure that savings banks are secure and protected. At the same time, staying up to date with the latest security measures and threats in the banking industry is important. With the proper protection in place, banks can continue to provide essential financial services with confidence!

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