The financial sector has faced the biggest number of organized cyber-threats, according to a report by the Digital Identity Network, ThreatMatrix. While analyzing 15 billion transactions in the past 12 months, ThreatMatrix revealed a 40% increase in cyber-attacks on financial institutions. There were 21 million fraud attacks and 45 million bot attacks in the fourth quarter of 2015 alone.
Any threat to the security of a big financial institution can paralyze it for days. Every industry has gone digital and it is impossible not to have digitized data, applications and multiple softwares within the company. All the charts, data, emails, updates, financial details and the like in the wrong hands can damage the reputation of an enterprise. What’s more, many companies are never able to recoup the losses due to cyber-crimes and suffer harsh consequences. On average, data breaches cost $3.5 million dollars in total for midsized companies.
For the above reasons and many more, financial institutions should implement a comprehensive security awareness program. In 2014, IBM found in a study that 95 per cent of all security incidents were a result of human error. It can be the owner or the employee being a little bit lenient- resulting in a big blow to the IT infrastructure of the company. Any breach can result in a loss of reputation as well as the financial and trust standing of a company.
That’s why, a security awareness program can minimize the damage by making both the management and the employees aware of the precautions that must be taken.
- To prevent data loss
Employees around the world can unknowingly indulge in risky behaviors that result in security breaches and data loss. Common employee behaviors include:
- Misusing passwords: 18 per cent of employees will share their passwords with coworkers. Such activities can result in data loss or data theft.
- Remote working: 46 per cent employees admit that they transfer files from work computers to home computers for work. It is an unsafe practice that is damaging to the organization.
- Unauthorized access: 39 per cent of IT professionals say that they have dealt with a random employee accessing unauthorized information about the company.
- Misusing corporate computers: 44 per cent employees will share their computers with coworkers.
- Unauthorized use of applications: A large number of IT professionals believe that unauthorized programs were the main cause of data loss and data theft from the company.
Such practices cannot be mitigated unless employee awareness programs are in place that highlight the dangers of data loss. Explaining the hazards of internal negligence can open their minds about possible threats. A sound investment in security measures will possibly reduce the chances of cyber-attacks many times over.
It is either lack of awareness or lack of diligence that results in most security breaches. Lack of education is an important reason for this, and a security awareness training can help employees take better decisions when it comes to company security.
- Saving remediation costs
Imagine what would happen if someone launched a cyber-attack on an insecure IT framework? Remediating a data breach and cleaning up all the mess, even if it was caused by a small malware, can be a time consuming and costly step.
The team will have to work day and night to restore the system, and depending on the nature of the attack, it could completely shut off the business for several days at the very worse.
The step-by-step procedural necessities can exhaust the budgets of an unprepared company. Not to mention the manpower and money that will have to be poured into the PR effort to remind stakeholders that the company is still safe for business. Lots of resources will be spent in campaigns that show your company can still be trusted.
The customer relations team will have to arrange meetings with legal associates and formulate a plan about the level of transparency that has to be maintained between you and affected clients. Not to mention that those affected will seek a reparation in damages that you have to pay.
In October 2014, one of the biggest data breaches happened in a US Bank, handicapping millions of households. You can also expect to stand in court and bear legal fees for affected individuals. The judge may advise a cost to be paid, and all of this will soon add up to be a huge amount.
Rewinding the situation – if a security awareness training is conducted often in a company, the chances of cyber attacks and threats decrease.
- Mobile safety
According to the August 2016 report by Hackmageddon, cyber-crime is the major intention behind a cyber-attack. Banks are moving their data to cloud storage and encouraging their clients to use mobile banking features. This puts data and confidential information out in the open. Another study indicates that “In 2015, there were 1,966,324 registered notifications about attempted malware infections that aimed to steal money via online access to bank accounts. Ransomware programs were detected on 753,684 computers of unique users; 179,209 computers were targeted by encryption ransomware.”
Employees also use mobile phones to access their accounts. Most of the safety potholes that affect computers in a company, like viruses and malware, can also affect mobile phones. Both your employees and client’s mobile phones are a target for attackers, who are devising new strategies to break into encryptions and steal money and data.
Cell phones are also dangerous because they can be physically lost or stolen. In this case, when a person loses their phone, whoever finds it can either return it or use it for wrong purposes.
Effective security awareness can help in this case. The phones that are reported to be lost or stolen can be removed from the database. These trainings can highlight the pros and cons of using mobile technology and what to do if one is faced with a crisis. Employees and clients should be aware that their phones can invite attacks, and act with caution.
Any enterprise risk management system should be diverse enough to cover various security measures for various situations. It can be a continuous learning experience made of video tutorials, newsletters, graphs, and scenario-based infographics that can educate the company about what lies in the cyber world. Financial institutions operate on trust, and to maintain that trust with their clients, they should heavily monitor and assess their security conditions frequently.
By: Erica Silva
Erica Silva is a blogger by choice. She loves to discover the world around her. She likes to share her discoveries, experiences and express herself through her blogs.
Find her on Twitter:@silvaderica