Protecting Financial Businesses From Cyberattacks

Nearly all cyberattacks are caused in part by human errors. Follow Synergy's tips to help better prepare your team from harm.

#cybersecurity #fintech #phishing

Nearly all cyberattacks are caused in part by
human errors like clicking a bad link, downloading a corrupted file, or sending sensitive documents over an unsecured network. The implications of these errors are severe in the financial sector: over the past decade, hackers have successfully managed to steal hundreds of millions of dollars. BCG claims that financial firms are 300 times more likely than other institutions to be attacked by cybercriminals. Essentially, opportunistic criminals are constantly creating newer and more sophisticated traps for finance businesses, and those businesses are increasingly caught off-guard. Don’t let your team or equipment be the reason behind a serious breach; read on to learn about some clear, simple ways to protect your business and your customers effectively.

Run a Risk Audit
Start with understanding the risks to your network, systems, employees, and data. On the systems side, understand how information is shared and data is stored. Make sure you’re aware of how many endpoint devices have access to your databases and central network; if your employees work remotely or in a hybrid model, that number could be greater than you realize. Understand the abilities and limits of your IT department, and how often they’re monitoring and updating your security systems. Further, assess how security-literate your employees are: do they receive training and ongoing education on best practices?

While FDIC protections guarantee that consumers would likely recover at least some of their money in an attack, businesses and larger institutions are at higher risk of losing big. Additionally, the interconnectedness between financial institutions means that money loss isn’t the only risk. A 2020 Federal Reserve Bank of New York report suggested that a cyberattack on any of the top five most active U.S. banks could impact 38% of the American banking network. A security breach could threaten your business’ solvency and undermine its credibility.

Store Your Data Wisely
Just as banks evolved more sophisticated physical security systems when outlaws started holding up stagecoaches in the Wild West, financial businesses today need to evolve to have virtual security systems that match. Your security policy should start at the prevention level, building a strong combination of hardware and software for your endpoint devices and centralized network.

  • Choose devices that prioritize security: with HP Wolf Security, for example, HP devices have self-healing firmware and in-memory breach detection to contain and destroy malware before it infects your whole computer.
  • Build regular device maintenance and monitoring into your plan: you need to keep both hardware and software up to date to minimize any risks.

Particularly for the financial sector, it’s important to have clear processes for how your data is handled. Customer information needs to be encrypted and stored on a secure server, and access to that data needs to be closely monitored and regulated. It’s important to be explicit about what data your remote or hybrid employees can access, and how they should view and transfer it. Following a zero-trust model and implementing multi-factor authentication for the most valuable data is effective for minimizing errors that could come from an employee.

 It's also wise to keep audit trails to track all financial transactions that occur on your server—not only is that good practice for reference and liability, but it can help quickly identify suspicious activity or find a compromised transaction that caused a breach. Being able to quickly identify weak points will help you respond and recover more quickly in the case of a breach.

Get Help Where You Need It
Your IT department manages a ton, but they’re often more focused on the daily demands that keep your systems running. It’s helpful to include an expert eye that can devote exclusive attention to your cybersecurity strategy and needs.

Synergy works with you to create a security plan. We’ll train your employees to identify risks and act with awareness. We offer penetration testing to give hands-on practice to your security system, and to proactively identify any weaknesses. With both planning and implementation, we help you to prepare for disaster recovery in case of a breach. We come alongside your IT team to bolster your valuable business assets and your reputation.

Operating from Buffalo, Rochester, and Syracuse for the last 50 years, Synergy is Central & Western New York's top Managed Service Provider for small-mid-sized organizations and global institutions alike. We bring together the best enterprise-level IT services, technology, and support to help organizations of all sizes accomplish great things. We partner with quality vendors like HP to bring you devices and local, personalized services to protect your data and keep your business on track. Contact us today to get the IT solutions you need.

Why are financial institutions especially vulnerable to cyberattacks?

Financial institutions are targeted more frequently than other businesses due to the potential for significant financial gain from stolen data or disrupted operations. Additionally, the interconnectedness of the financial sector means a cyberattack on one institution can have widespread consequences.

What are the risks of a cyberattack for a financial institution?

Beyond financial losses, a cyberattack can damage a financial institution's reputation, erode customer trust, and disrupt critical services.

How can I assess my business's cybersecurity risks?

Conducting a risk audit provides a comprehensive understanding of your vulnerabilities. This involves evaluating your network systems, data storage practices, employee security awareness, and IT department capabilities.

What are some key steps to take to improve my cybersecurity posture?

  • Implement a strong security policy: This includes using secure endpoint devices like those with HP Wolf Security, maintaining regular updates on hardware and software, and establishing clear data handling procedures.
  • Adopt a zero-trust model: This approach assumes no user or device is inherently trustworthy and requires additional verification for access.
  • Enable multi-factor authentication (MFA): This adds an extra layer of security by requiring multiple factors for login, like a password and a code sent to your phone.
  • Train your employees: Regular security awareness training helps employees identify and avoid cyber threats.
  • Partner with a cybersecurity expert: Consider seeking assistance from a professional to develop a comprehensive security plan, conduct penetration testing, and prepare for disaster recovery.

What can Synergy do to help my financial institution?

Synergy offers a range of cybersecurity services, including:

  • Security plan development: We help you create a customized plan to address your specific needs and risks.
  • Employee training: We provide comprehensive training programs to raise awareness and improve security practices among your staff.
  • Penetration testing: We simulate cyberattacks to identify and address vulnerabilities in your systems.
  • Disaster recovery planning: We assist you in developing a plan to respond to and recover from a cyberattack.

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