Australia’s finance industry is experiencing a sharp rise in cyber-attacks. Threats against financial services firms almost tripled in the first half of 2022 compared to 2021, and NAB has reported it handles over 50 million cyber-attacks on a monthly basis.
With the increasing reliance on technology to facilitate transactions and manage assets, the financial industry is a prime target for malicious actors to steal and misuse valuable information. The growing instances of cyber-attacks accentuate the imperative need for cyber security measures to ensure a secure environment for financial professionals to work safely, sustain customer trust, and adhere to regulatory compliance.
The aim of this article is to shed light on the importance of impenetrable cyber security within the financial realm to secure sensitive information and mitigate the risks of cyber incidents.
Risks threatening the financial industry
In the financial industry, where institutions handle sensitive and valuable data – bank details, financial records, customer contact information – the significance of cyber security is paramount. The breach of this information can have grave ramifications, such as regulatory fines, reputational damage, and even legal action.
The Latitude Financial Services data breach in March 2023 exposed an estimated 14 million customer records, including driver licence numbers, and income and expense information. Because of this, Latitude is facing a class action lawsuit and has already set aside nearly $50 million for customer remediation costs alone.
Successful attacks not only devastate financial firms in terms of lawsuits and fines; they erode the trust of customers and stakeholders, and severely damage a company’s reputation.
The role of cyber security for finance firms
Cyber security encompasses a broad range of technologies, tools, policies, and procedures. From risk management and detection and response, to access controls and business continuity, cyber security is not just technical; it’s strategic.
On the whole, cyber security is a protective shield that aims to safeguard sensitive data and intellectual property from unauthorised access and cyber-attacks. It acts as the first line of defence against a spectrum of cyber threats to ensure the sanctity and confidentiality of critical information.
Some security measures that align with financial firms include:
Risk assessment: Identifying vulnerabilities within the system allows firms to prioritise and address these vulnerabilities effectively, aligning security measures with potential risks.
Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA): Implementing MFA adds an additional layer of security by requiring users to provide two or more verification factors to gain access to resources, significantly reducing the risk of unauthorised access.
Data encryption: Encrypting sensitive data, both in transit and at rest, is crucial for protecting information from unauthorised access and breaches, ensuring that even if data is intercepted, it’s unreadable without the decryption key.
Firewalls and Intrusion Detection Systems (IDS): Employing firewalls and IDS helps in monitoring and controlling incoming and outgoing network traffic based on an organisation’s previously established security policies, to detect any malicious activities or suspicious behaviour.
Regular software updates: Updating software and systems with the latest patches is vital for addressing security vulnerabilities and ensuring that systems are protected against known threats.
Employee cyber awareness: Conducting regular training and awareness programs empowers employees with the knowledge and skills needed to recognise and prevent security threats, fostering a culture of vigilance and responsibility.
Incident Response Plan (IRP): A well-defined and practised IRP allows for quick and organised action in the event of a security breach, minimising damage and recovery time.
Cyber insurance: Acquiring cyber insurance will help to mitigate the financial risks associated with cyber incidents and support recovery efforts, providing a financial safety net in case of a security breach.
Data backup and disaster recovery: Regularly backing up critical data and creating recovery procedures are essential for ensuring data availability, and minimising downtime in the event of data loss or a cyber incident.
Deploy the right cyber security measures for your financial firm
Embracing cyber security is a commitment to upholding trust, ensuring resilience, and propelling your organisation into a future marked by secure and sustainable growth.
Itopia is a leading managed service provider specialising in delivering the cyber security solutions finance firms need to build a resilient, secure, and compliant environment. Reach out to us today, and let’s embark on a journey to reinforce your cyber security framework.