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A Challenging Year for Financial Services Cybersecurity

Last year saw an increase in attacks targeting financial firms, as companies scrambled to adapt  to new ways of working in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic

Banks have always been a target for criminals. But in the digital era, the most successful criminals are not cracking safes for cash. They are penetrating firewalls for data.

Even before the pandemic, cybersecurity for financial firms involved high stakes. In addition to the sensitive data they hold, banks and financial institutions also control bank accounts, credit card information and other financial assets.

But COVID-19 caused a surge in attacks on financial institutions. Cloud anti-virus firm VMware Carbon Black found a 238% increase in cyber-attacks on the industry in the 2020 edition of its Modern Bank Heists report.

“Direct access to money and payments is very attractive for attackers,” says BNP Paribas Group Head of Cyber Risk Intelligence Jules Pagna Disso.

“Cyber risk is the largest risk now that is facing any organization in the world,” adds Voya Financial SVP Global Chief Information Security Officer Raj Badhwar. “It used to be the traditional risks, like the finance risk, the credit risk or the volatility of the market. But now cyber risk has circumvented all those.”

A successful breach can cause serious business and reputational damage for financial firms. This has propelled cybersecurity to the top of the agenda for senior leaderships and raised the profile of the CISO in the corporate hierarchy.

This is an extract from the exclusive report The 2021 Information Security Agenda. The report highlights how COVID-19 has rapidly shifted priorities for Chief Information Security Officers (CISOs), requiring them to implement new strategies, technologies and educational programs in a time of heightened risk. Click here to get your copy.