Can’t but bank on cybersecurity

Vineet Tyagi | Updated on September 21, 2021

Cyber matters Vigilance pays   -  istock.com

Data analytics and ML are essential for cyber resilience in the BFSI space

With an incremental emphasis being laid on digitisation for financial institutions, there has been a monumental increase in cybersecurity threats as well. As the world goes on to connect more and more digitally, cybercriminals have started to infiltrate by finding new entry points of attack, which means that the need for stringent cybersecurity measures for digital banking is now more pressing than ever.

Taking into account that there have been data breaches for technologically savvy banks as well, financial institutions need to start looking at cybersecurity as a priority.

The threats

Malware: Digital transactions are generally conducted on end-to-end user devices such as mobiles, computers, etc. which is why they need to have security measures in place. If devices being used for access are infected with malware, then they end up posing a serious security risk to the bank’s cybersecurity network, whenever they connect with it.

Third-party services: Numerous banks and financial institutions employ the services of third-party vendors, to be able to serve their customers in a better manner. However, if the vendors do not take active cybersecurity measures, then the bank can end up facing the repercussions, by proving to be an easy target for cybercriminals.

Spoofing: One of the newest cyber threats being faced by banks today, is spoofing. Cybercriminals try impersonating a bank’s URL with a website that is quite similar to the original one and has similar functions as well. Whenever a user enters his or her login to tensions into the fake website, the credentials are then stolen by the criminals.

Phishing: Attempting to obtain sensitive information such as credit card details, etc. for fraudulent activities, by disguising oneself as an authentic, trustworthy entity via electronic communication is known as phishing. As digital proliferation has increased, so have online bank phishing scams.

Unencrypted data: One of the most common issues faced by banks today, is unencrypted data, which becomes a gateway for hackers or cybercriminals. Hence, it is imperative that whatever data that is stored on the computers, servers or the cloud of the institutions, needs to be encrypted fully, which ensures that even in the event of data being stolen, it cannot be used by cybercriminals.

The challenges

Lack of awareness: As is the case with the new technology introduction, raising awareness amongst people regarding cybersecurity has been quite a challenge. There aren’t a lot of firms that end up investing in training and enhancing overall awareness related to cybersecurity amongst people.

Increased use of social media: With the advent of social media and its increased adoption, hackers have learned to exploit the medium. Many a time, customers who are not well-versed with cybersecurity measures, end up putting the data for anyone to see.

Inadequate budget and lack of management: Cybersecurity is often neglected in budget allocations. With the focus of management not being as much on cybersecurity, there is generally inadequate support for such projects. Many a time management does not realise the monumental impact that these threats can have on an institution.

Weak identity and access management: One of the fundamental elements of cybersecurity is identity and access management, and particularly in the times when cybercriminals gaining an advantage, it becomes even more important. It can take something as minuscule as one hacked credential, that can give a hacker access to the entire enterprise network.

Increase in Malware: Recent global attacks have brought to everyone's notice the threat posed by ransomware. Cybercriminals today, are beginning to utilise methods that make them virtually undetectable by endpoint protection code that generally narrows down on executable files.

The solutions

Integrated security: In a sector as regulated as BFSI, integrated security is the future. Institutions invest much time, money and effort in using the best technology, which can become difficult to manage. Integrated security hence, becomes much beneficial, as the various elements can work and communicate together.

Machine learning and big data analytics: Data analytics and machine learning are essential for leveraging cyber resilience. With the new generation of security analytics now available, BFSIs can store and assess high volumes of security-related data in real-time.

Anti-virus and anti-malware applications: While a firewall offers increased protection from cyberattacks, it is not enough. Updated antivirus and anti-malware applications offer the best protection from attacks that can be potentially disastrous.

Endpoint protection: Financial institutions need to invest in technologies that can end up recognising practices and eliminating actions that are used for exploitation.

In India, while the RBI and the government are taking proactive measures to combat cyberattacks, the pace of evolution with newer technology trends such as cryptocurrencies and Blockchain is still afoot. Making cybersecurity a part of design architecture, that can help in detecting disturbing attacks in real-time, as opposed to repairing the damage, is now the need of the hour.

Hence, a fool-proof cybersecurity system, that doesn’t compromise with data pertaining to customers and financial institutions, is something that needs to become a primary focus for a rapidly digitising BFSI system.

The writer is Global CTO, Biz2X

Published on September 21, 2021

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