Cybercrime is rising in all industries, but its effect is felt acutely among financial firms. The financial sector experienced a significant one-year spike, with 74% of institutions facing a significant rise in threats, while others worried about the future.
The challenge is that firms in the financial sector tend to have very robust systems with many endpoints and a lot of sensitive financial data shared across all employees in the company. A firm can lose millions of dollars because of a breach and shatter its precious reputation for years to come.
Why do financial firms get targeted? And what can they do to detect and control cyber threats more efficiently? We break down the answers to these questions below.
Cybercrime is on the Rise - And Financial Firms Are a Big Target
The financial industry is a prime target for cybercriminals, and data proves it. Financial firms are 300 times more likely to be hacked than other industries. And they also experience the greatest financial losses, with an average cost of cybercrime for a FinTech business amounting to $18.3 million per company.
The worst example of a breach occurred to Equifax in 2017. It affected more than 143 million consumers and cost over $700 million in settlement fees. Equifax's promises for increased protection and data privacy didn't help its public image.
Another incident occurred in 2021 when a famous group called the Cuba ransomware group attacked 49 critical infrastructure organizations, including a payment processor called Automatic Funds Transfer Services. They were able to get away with $43.9 million in ransomware payments. Multiple states, including California and Washington, were affected and forced to send breach notification letters.
This begs the question - why are financial firms such a big target for cyber attacks?
Sensitive data is readily shared
One reason that financial firms are so vulnerable to cybercrime has to do with the amount of data that is shared across the company. Some financial firms have the most sensitive files available to all employees, with nearly two-thirds of companies having over 1,000+ sensitive files open to every employee. New employees can get access to over 10-20 million files when they walk through the door, depending on the firm's size.
More endpoints than in other sectors
Another challenge that financial firms face is that they often have more endpoints than in other sectors. Banks, for example, have hundreds of ATMs and point of purchase systems across a single region. All of those endpoints increase the risk of a cyber attack and increase the complexity of the security protocols that need to be in place to respond to a cyber threat.
Customer service is a challenge
The challenge for FinTech firms is that customers have to disclose their personal financial information to receive their services. So cyber threats can be particularly damaging in this sector because of the nature of the information shared by the customer.
What's the takeaway? FinTech firms need to provide exceptional customer service to an ever-increasing volume of customers — which means disclosing and accessing sensitive customer personal and financial data.
But not all the effects of a cyber security breach are short-term. The long-term effects of a breach last way beyond the first few months after an incident, such as when hackers start to sell off the stolen data. In fact, it takes financial firms an average of 233 days to detect and contain a data breach, and the effects on firms' reputations can be long-lasting.
How Can FinTech Firms Thwart Cybercrime
So what can FinTech firms do to protect themselves from cyber security threats? The way sensitive data is so readily shared across the entire company becomes the Achilles heel for financial companies. Firms can mitigate this risk by investing in cyber security training for all employees so that they know how to safeguard sensitive personal and financial information every day.
Balancing the need for service excellence and tight security can be a challenge. Outsourcing customer support makes sense for many financial firms, but only if the outsourcing partner has the right infrastructure and people to meet security protocols.
Hire an experienced support team
FinTech firms need to follow strict security protocols to secure their infrastructure and protect sensitive data. But it's not enough to build that infrastructure. Firms need a high-level support team to monitor the environment and take action when they see suspicious activity.
Firms must improve their response time because the longer it takes to detect and resolve a threat, the more damage there could be.
Firms need a top-quality support team that can do the following:
- Ensure that your organization has an incident plan in place
- Schedule and carry out regular cyber security drills at different times of the week/day
- Monitor and secure endpoints
- Respond to customer concerns quickly to help safeguard the brand
- Store data securely according to PCI and SOCII standards
Automated technology solutions can only go so far. Firms need a well-trained team of customer service agents and cyber security experts to monitor and respond to threats in real-time, efficiently, and with precision.
Safeguard Your Firm Against Cyber Threats
Cybercrime is only going to increase, and financial firms are especially vulnerable for four reasons.
- Sensitive financial data is readily shared across a majority of employees at an average company.
- Financial firms typically have more endpoints than companies in other sectors.
- Customer service is a big challenge because of the sensitive nature of the information customers share with these firms.
- There are severe long-term effects after a cyber breach that can often negatively impact the firm for years to come.
Financial firms have to invest in employee education in cyber security and implement the right strategy, but that's not enough. Companies need to have an experienced customer support team to handle customer requests, scan the environment for threats, mitigate those threats, and help educate employees on proactive measures.
Helpware can help FinTech companies meet both needs by offering top-quality customer support in a secure environment. We have some of the best teams spread across the globe that can quickly mobilize to function as your company's cyber security back office.
Need help with cybersecurity? Hire the perfect cyber security support team today.