Cyber Defense is Crucial: Protecting Financial Systems from Modern Attacks

Cyber Defense is Crucial: Protecting Financial Systems from Modern Attacks

by June 1, 2023

Money and crime have coexisted forever. Robbing a bank is the ultimate staple for robberies since it always makes headlines. Hollywood has made bank heists popular, but that’s not what the financial sector needs to be afraid of. Money is going digital, and banks don’t like to deal with a lot of cash. They give out loans with the click of a button. That’s exactly what hackers were hoping for – stealing money with the click of a button.

One of the most popular exploits happened to SWIFT a few years ago, and hackers tried to grab hold of one billion dollars. They were unable to execute their plan to its full extent, and they only got away with a hundred million. The financial world was shocked. One major vulnerability became exposed. Centralizing data in one system is like storing it in a castle. You’ve got walls surrounding it, and the treasure inside is hard to find. But if someone finds a way to poke a hole and get inside, there’s a massive problem.

Now, fintech systems are faced with a massive problem. It’s the issue of when, not if, they’re going to get attacked. Governments, major banks, and companies are trying to find a way to protect user data and make the infrastructure more robust. Now, with the threat of AI and machine learning algorithms, the stability of the financial world is at stake.

In the meantime, society is going digital, especially after the pandemic. Remote work is the new normal, which means the weak points of the system are increasing. Even though remote workers are trying to protect themselves by using antiviruses, and VPNs, attacks are still succeeding. Cybersecurity is now an absolute necessity.

Who are the cybercriminals?

image via freepik

Whenever somebody mentions the word hacker, the first thing that comes to mind is a dark room with a guy in a hoodie writing code. That stereotype was introduced decades ago, but now it’s everything from state-sponsored groups terrorists, and hacktivists. Regular cybercriminals are a small part of the entire sector because they’re only trying to steal money.

Higher-level operations require higher-level organizations. Terrorists use their ideological discontent to disrupt or attack countries digitally. Crossing borders is tough. But sending a disguised link passes through every geological restriction. They can launch DDoS attacks from anywhere in the world and shut down anything from government websites to healthcare systems.

State-sponsored groups, like the ones from North Korea, operate with mass damage in mind. They target payment systems, power grids, or physical damage through killware. Stealing billions or trying to breach a major bank makes headlines if it’s happening in first-world countries. But middle to low-income states often goes unnoticed. One such example is Uganda, where a massive attack made their mobile money networks disrupted for four days.

Who’s responsible for keeping hackers at bay?

You fight fire with fire. Cybersecurity experts are divided into two categories based on a single character trait – ethics. Even though we’ve been taught that good always prevails, the number of destructive and disruptive attacks has been increasing year by year.

It’s still not clear who is responsible for protecting the entire financial sector. Is it governments? Is it banks? Is it the United Nations? Nobody knows yet. The landscape is evolving rapidly, and the slow and steady financial sector needs to adapt quickly to ensure its own survival in the long run.

What’s the solution?

Globalization has made us closer than ever. That’s precisely why this problem is international. Countries should work together instead of alone to keep cybercriminals at bay. If every nation worked solo, there would be duplicate effort and protected information. Coordination, internationalizing, and sharing information are crucial in today’s era. Plus, this could be the type of model behavior that will spread out to other sectors.

Through social media, we’re all living in a hyper-individualized world. But on a global scale, we’re all in the same boat. If money fails, society fails, and that’s exactly what hackers are trying to accomplish. Anarchy is not an option, and governments of countries like the UK, Netherlands, and Australia are already working together.

Of course, nothing would be possible without people on the good side of history. There’s a major emphasis on the workforce and creating experts in the field. The talent pipeline is already in progress, and universities are highlighting courses and programs related to the niche.

A few final words

Finally, we should all remember that all change starts at an individual level. Making sure we all adhere to the best cybersecurity practices, you should try a VPN trial and antivirus programs, and triple-check before clicking on any links is a great start.


Featured image credit: PRConsultancy In-house design