As financial services firms embrace digital banking, instant payments, and other technological advancements, they must protect their customers. However, heightened technology use makes these companies a prime target for hackers.

Infostealers steal sensitive customer information, resulting in data breaches and regulatory penalties. Ransomware attacks encrypt servers, making files unusable until a victim pays the attackers’ demanded fee.

Strengthen your security measures with IPQualityScore’s account takeover detection service. Stay one step ahead of cybercriminals and safeguard user credentials.

Loss or Theft of Devices

Financial services firms must protect their data against various cyber threats. These include phishing attacks that trick employees into divulging information, ransomware attacks that lock victims out of their systems and threaten to publish larger portions of seized data on criminal forums unless a ransom is paid, and DDoS attacks that hammer key financial services systems and disrupt operations.

In addition, many cyberattacks against the financial services sector involve third parties. The sector relies on various third-party providers to facilitate transactions, provide cloud and payment services and deliver other critical infrastructure. These third-party relationships present an attractive target for threat actors who want to redirect payments, steal confidential client and company data and gain access to transactional systems.

Even though a cyberattack against a financial services firm is not uncommon, it does not mean that hackers are losing interest. Instead, they are evolving their tactics and focusing on new opportunities. For example, the value of stolen credit card information has dropped significantly on the dark web, and attackers are now using this data for other reasons, such as extortion.

Financial services firms are under intense pressure to establish thorough cybersecurity for financial services that evaluate and monitor their suppliers’ security procedures due to the rising danger of third-party intrusions. According to a recent poll, nearly three-quarters of financial services executives ranked third-party cybersecurity threats as the top worry.

Hackers Gain Unauthorized Access

Financial services firms deal with sensitive data, including customers’ personal information. Attackers often exploit this data to make unauthorized transactions, gain access to a company’s systems, or launch DDoS attacks.

Cyberattacks on the financial sector are most commonly motivated by monetary gain, and they can disrupt business operations or lead to the loss of valuable data. Ransomware is a common threat in this industry; once an attacker gains unauthorized access, they can encrypt the victim’s files and operating system. This forces the victim to pay a fee to restore access.

Cryptomining malware is another threat that uses infected computers to perform computationally expensive tasks for the attacker. For example, Bitcoin and other blockchain-based cryptocurrencies need much computing power to create blocks and validate transactions. This malware can slow down or even stop a financial service firm’s network.

Attackers also target email accounts to gather intel about the company’s clients, products, and payment processes. This is why business email compromise (BEC) soared during COVID-19 and continues to be a problem for the financial industry. BEC is one of the most costly types of cyberattacks, according to a 2022 report by IBM. And that’s why securing employee email accounts should be a top priority for all financial services companies.

Brute-Force Attacks

In addition to phishing and ransomware, financial services firms can fall victim to brute force attacks or Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks. A DDoS attack floods a company’s servers with traffic, making it impossible for customers to access its websites or apps. These attacks can be the work of disgruntled employees, hacktivists, or even criminal gangs.

Brute-force attacks involve a bad actor testing massive numbers of usernames and passwords against an authentication endpoint. These bad actors often have lists of common credentials stolen from previous breaches, known as credential stuffing. They also know that users commonly reuse logins on multiple sites. These attacks can lead to unauthorized account and transaction access and expose personal information such as social security numbers or credit card details.

Cyberattacks on FIs from nation-state attackers are increasing in frequency and sophistication. While these attacks typically have political or economic motivations, they can disrupt operations and undermine trust in the sector. Attackers also take advantage of the move toward digital financial services in lower- and middle-income countries. These services can sometimes advance financial inclusion by leapfrogging traditional banking systems, but they provide hackers with a target-rich environment.


Financial services firms have the highest risks for a malware attack, mainly due to their dealings with sensitive information and large sums of money. However, other industries also experience this type of cyberattack.

The most common malware attacks in the financial sector involve phishing and social engineering. This includes using fake emails or text messages with links that compromise networks when clicked. This is often followed by stealing personal data and requesting funds from the victim. This can include a type of attack known as business email compromise (BEC), where the criminal posing as an executive at a company requests wire transfers that are then transferred to another bank account.

Hackers can also use bots and keyloggers to access a financial firm’s system. These tools are automated programs that complete tasks on the computer. They can also be used to spam a company’s email servers and crack passwords with brute force.

Financial services firms must have strong password policies and a Zero Trust architecture to protect against these attacks. The best way to do this is with a single sign-on solution that validates and verifies all digital interactions with an organization. It also includes privileged access management, which monitors and controls all accounts in the company’s system.


Leave a Reply