Ransomware has been plaguing every sector, especially since the dark pandemic clouds covered the entire world. However, research shows that the financial sector is facing heavy challenges as the cybercrime cartels evolve. VMware’s Modern Bank Heists 5.0 report states that threat actors have moved from hacking wire transfers to targeting market data. Here are some more findings from the report. 

Some stats your way

  • Sixty-three percent of financial institutions admitted to suffering a rise in destructive cyberattacks.
  • Around 75% faced at least one ransomware attack, among which 63% paid the ransom. 
  • An increase of 60% in island hopping has been observed. 
  • Sixty-seven percent of financial firms underwent timestamp manipulation, aka Chronos. Among these, 44% targeted market positions. 
  • Two out of three firms (66%) suffered attacks attempting to siphon data related to market strategies. 

Why this matters

  • Security of systems connected to the internet is still lacking. This gap provides opportunities to cybercriminals.
  • However, financial motives are the biggest cause of such a rise in attacks. The expansion of digital money payment systems provides attackers pseudo-anonymity to expedite their actions.
  • The research has, moreover, found that once threat actors gain access to a network, they are looking for non-public market information, such as large transactions, earnings estimates, and public offerings. 

Market manipulation

  • Threat actors have realized that non-public market information is the most significant asset possessed by any financial institution, instead of access to capital or wire transfer.
  • The information includes corporate strategies or data that can impact a firm’s share price as soon as it becomes public. 
  • This threat posed by economic espionage can be leveraged to digitize insider trading and front-run the market. 
  • Furthermore, they have set their sights on seizing brokerage accounts, which may enable them to sell or buy securities at a far lower rate. 

The bottom line

Despite strengthening their security postures, financial institutions are under a heavy bout of cyberattacks. As bad actors keep evolving and changing their TTPs, it is becoming extremely challenging for financial institutions to remain secure. Bank heists have taken the form of economic espionage and the way to stay safe is to increase collaboration among the cybersecurity community, financial sector, and government entities. 

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