Why are Banks Prone To Cyber-attacks?

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The use of technology in every sector of humans’ daily activities has been nothing short of impressive and efficient. However, as technology becomes advanced and more prevalent especially in the aspect of data handling, it has raised several privacy concerns among experts and even the general public. Hacking and network breaches have become the order of the day as news concerning these unfortunate incidents have been on media coverage constantly. 

Financial institutions, especially banks have been under constant attacks from these hackers and this is due to the inadequate infrastructure required to protect the banks from such attacks. Apart from this, a number of them have no idea of the severity of the threats they actually face and do not possess the knowledge of the right resources to be put in place to protect them from these hacks. In addition, the shortage of the right manpower further compounds this challenge.

Reasons for the vulnerability of banks

A couple of weaknesses noted to be prevalent among attacked banks which allow for attacks ranging from Wi-Fi hacking to Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS), data theft, etc. are explained below:

  • Inadequate professional support: Recent studies have shown that young and vibrant professionals who could fill the roles of cybersecurity experts in banks no longer see the finance sector as a lucrative sector to work for. This is owing to the fact that financial institutions no longer attract these minds well enough for them to seek employment in these institutions. A German study showed that by 2016, a deficit of 3,000 job positions was left unoccupied in the IT sector. A deficit predicted to widen in the coming years.

vulnerability of banks

  • Lack of Sufficient Information regarding the threats: The process by which banks assess cyber risks are often gone about the other way round or many times done in an undefined way. Ideally, assessing a cyber-risk should be done by taking an inventory of the applications, infrastructure, network and data before any other thing is done. The next step would be to assess the criticality of assets held by the bank. This criticality should conform with the bank’s Confidentiality, Integrity and Availability (CIA) as related to their protection goals. The information at this stage then helps them determine if they are truly exposed or breached and to what extent. From there, they can begin to take steps to repair whatever damage must have been done.
  • Pressure on organizational capabilities: With the growing trend of cyber-attacks and threats facing banks, it is only expected that the operational and organizational capabilities of such banks begin to come under immense pressure systematically leading to breakdowns and several backlogs. These shortcomings can result in inefficiency in operations stemming from inadequate resources and technicians to completely monitor, detect and record suspicious activities.

These are some of the major weaknesses faced by banks particularly relating to cybersecurity. These issues can be salvaged by constant health checks on security infrastructure, proper procedural investigation in the event of an attack and the acquisition of appropriate personnel and technology to combat cyberwars.

What can be done?

The management of banks should work in order to counter these cyber threats with the realization that not only the consumers nor the banks alone benefit from the solution but the entire financial space will experience some stability. The issue of curbing cyber-attacks and ensuring data security should not be a problem for just the IT department alone but it should be considered a grave threat to the entire banking system which needs all hands to be on deck in order to fully contain the problems it might pose. 

To contain these threats, it is pertinent to carry out a health check on the existing security protocols and embed cyber resilience models into the operational model. In addition to this, the appropriate manpower and technology to drive, detect, and counter attacks on a daily basis should be installed. In the coming years which will experience a growth in digital banking, cyber-attacks will also grow in number and technicality. In order to be well prepared for the warfare, defenses should be put in place now.