Business & Finance

5 Common Cybersecurity Threats in the Financial Industry

In the financial sector, data security is crucial. The wealth of Personally Identifiable Information (PII) and money makes the industry a tempting target for cybercriminals.

Despite the rapid digitization of financial systems, many web portals and apps need to be more secure and offer hackers an easy attack surface. A medley of software security solutions is necessary to protect banks from these threats.


Data Breach

Billions of people trust financial institutions with their most personal information, from credit scores to home addresses and social security numbers. It’s no wonder cybersecurity in the financial industry is an attractive target for cybercriminals.

These attacks can come in many forms, such as ransomware that locks users out of their devices and demands a hefty sum in return for access. Or it could be a data breach, which exposes sensitive information on the dark web.

A more dangerous type of attack is one that takes advantage of system vulnerabilities. These can be found at the firm, industry or network level, affecting everything from payments to market liquidity and price discovery. These issues can have a ripple effect, especially for global companies that operate in multiple markets and depend on critical information’s integrity across their networks.


The sensitive, personally identifiable information and large sums of money that financial institutions hold make them attractive targets for cybercriminals. It’s reported that a data breach happens every 39 seconds, and the financial industry is hit with $2 million in losses every minute1.

Hackers can wreak havoc by accessing a firm’s network to steal confidential information and deploy malware, leading to costly outages, regulatory penalties and reputational damage. Less egregious breaches, such as lost devices and password errors, can occur due to employee negligence, so companies must prioritize training on cyber risks and security.

Another dangerous threat is spoofing, in which hackers create a webpage or email that looks identical to the real thing to trick victims into entering their credentials. Increasing reliance on telework and remote access tools makes it easy for attackers to gain account credentials. These are then used to steal data and launch further attacks.

DDoS Attacks

Financial services must maintain the trust and confidence of their customers, and a cyberattack that disrupts service can cause financial, regulatory and reputational consequences. This is why fortified cybersecurity has become a must-have for the financial industry.

Attackers can use DDoS attacks to flood and crash a company’s website, preventing users from accessing their accounts or making online purchases. DDoS attacks are growing more sophisticated and damaging, and hackers can now launch attacks using off-the-shelf toolkits and services available on the web.

Security teams must constantly monitor their networks for DDoS attacks, which can interrupt their bandwidth and slow down network performance. Moreover, DDoS attacks are often used as a distraction for malicious activities such as data theft and extortion.

DDoS attacks also threaten banks because they can affect customer transactions and revenue streams and damage a company’s reputation. For example, attackers can hijack the DNS to spoof a bank’s URL and trick users into entering their credentials on a fraudulent site that looks exactly like the real One.


Cyberattacks that affect financial institutions’ data can cost them millions and erode trust. If these attacks are successful, they can damage the integrity of transactions and algorithms.

Criminals can also spoof communications to make them look real, trick victims into downloading malicious software, sending money or sharing personal, financial or other sensitive information. These phishing attacks can come through emails, text messages, social media and more.

Attackers can use the information they’ve collected on people to target them with specialized attacks called spear phishing. They’ll correct spelling mistakes, tailor communication to the victim and make their phishing message look especially realistic.

Attackers can also use ransomware to extort cash from their victims. The malware locks them out of their computers and encrypts their files, and victims often can’t get their information back unless they pay the attackers. This is why financial services firms need to keep up with continuous training and deploy machine-intelligent security systems that understand context, organizational behavior and communication relationships to detect and block these threats.


Malware is a broad term that encompasses malicious software used to disrupt or damage a computer system, steal sensitive information, gain unauthorized access to systems and networks, and more. Malware includes viruses, trojans, spyware, adware, ransomware and other forms of malicious code. Some types of malware are polymorphic, meaning they alter their surface appearance regularly while maintaining the same algorithm to subvert detection via traditional virus signatures.

Financial institutions offer a tempting target for bad actors due to their high-value customer information. Infostealers collect, exfiltrate and manipulate this data, leading to a costly data breach and regulatory penalties. DDoS attacks and credential stuffing attack an organization’s IT infrastructure, slowing or stopping business operations and leading to loss of revenue.

As financial organizations implement technology to improve their business processes, they expose themselves to new risks and vulnerabilities.