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Why are banks still a top target for DDoS Attacks?

Author: Cyril James
by Cyril James
Posted: Apr 24, 2021

Did you know?

  1. Survey results concluded that 70% of the community banks feel that cyber security is their top concern.
  2. Financial Services have a 300X higher chance of being cyberattacked.
  3. Banks constitute to a significant portion of the world's economy. Just the idea of a disruption caused in any Bank's functioning could severely skew financial markets. The ripple effect of such cyber-attacks can be felt globally.

In post Covid times, a significant boom in DDOS (Distributed Denial of Service) attacks on banks has been observed globally. This can be attributed to the increase in remote working and the dependency on digital banking.

In June 2020, a massive DDoS attack was identified on an unnamed popular European bank. It has been found that post-pandemic time has been a catalyst to attacks specifically targeted at banks.

Do you know what a DDoS attack is?

Let's deep dive into this DDoS attack phenomenon that the world has witnessed rampantly since the pandemic hit. Distributed denial of service, also known as DDoS, is a type of cyber security attack in which cybercriminals/attackers flood the victim's system, service or network traffic with multiple requests originating from various attack machines.

This disrupts the victim's system, thus preventing the authentic user from using the services. Victims of DDoS attacks are often banking or other financial institutions that have lax in maintaining their cyber security needs.

This inundation of traffic may result in the victim's entire digital system coming to a screeching halt. A DDoS has the potential of bringing down even the most prominent banks under its scanner and causing massive harm.

What are the implications of a malicious DDoS attack on banks?

Let us understand this by means of a real-world example. On Jan 29th, 2016, the global bank HSBC in the U.K came under a direct DDoS attack which it managed to mitigate eventually. However, during the downtime, the users were requested to locally consult the bank for any services.

How this affected the users was 1. It was close to Payday for various organizations; hence the employees were temporarily affected. 2. It was close to the tax returns deadline, which, if delayed, would result in a 3% penalty.

This attack threatened to cause major disruption during critical times and was deemed to be a planned attack. The attack also resulted in taxpayers being levied a 3% penalty for late payment, which caused unrest among taxpayers. The importance of DDoS prevention is critical in the smooth functioning of the economy.

While a DDoS attack is simpler in nature over the years and may be easy to defend or mitigate, it thrives on the downtime it causes on the target system.

This downtime costs banks or financial institution millions of dollars because of their operations being shut of a stipulated period of time.

Furthermore, this could also be used as a mechanism to cause a distraction for an actual attack on the bank's system. For instance, a DDoS attack may be launched to distract the bank from a much more threatening attack that may be intended for launch.

The second attack could be towards accessing sensitive customer data and credentials that may lead to money laundering frauds that are much more threatening in nature.

Why are banks more susceptible to such attacks?

Banks have transitioned most of their services to a digital platform as a way of rendering high-quality customer service. However, this digital migration puts the banks at risk of being exposed to the dark flipside of the digital world.

Attacking banks enables direct access to high profile breaches and improved chances of direct money laundering frauds. It has been observed that since the remote working landscape has boomed, there has been a steep rise in money laundering frauds, funding terrorist attacks, tax frauds and more.

While banks are rapidly working towards evolving their digital security systems, many traditional banks remain at risk of DDoS attack, phishing attacks and more.

This can be attributed to a high level of innovation and competency of cybercriminals who are aware of banking systems and equipped with the latest cybercriminal technology and practices.

This combination proves to be lethal for banks and financial organisations given the attackers level of tech expertise.

A DDoS attack is simple to create that can be leveraged using personal systems or IoT devices. This is what makes a DDoS attack massive. Attackers create what is known as a 'Botnet' which is basically a network of vulnerable devices infected with malware set to create a particular task.

These devices are recruited by cybercriminals using various means, most of which are poor security controls that can easily be evaded.

How can banks combat with DDoS attacks?

Now that you have clearly understood the threats let us walk you through the mechanisms by which banks can prevent and combat a security attack.

1. Access your Current Security Levels

The first step in moving forward towards a secured cyber environment is assessing your current situation. This can be done by asking Secure Triad's expert pen testers to carry out careful pen testing to determine the current threat levels.

2. Secure Your On-premises Systems

Whether it is your Wi-Fi router or your servers, ensure that your on-premises systems are secure from cyber-attacks. For more info on how you can secure these systems, you can contact us

3. Frequently Change The Passwords of Your Information Systems and IoT Devices

No matter how advanced the system gets and how innovative the cyber threats become; the basics will always remain critical control points. Ensure you change your passwords regularly, making it hard for attackers to crack them.

4. Choose a Cyber Security Solution

Look for a complete 360-degree cyber security solution tailored to your organisation’s needs. Ensure that the system is in place to offer you complete protection of your devices against threats of DDoS attacks.

Whether you are a bank or any other cyber security service, you are now acutely aware of the risks your bank faces today. With every passing day, the cyber threats domain is evolving, but so is the cyber threat detection foray.

Choose to stay secured using simple and effective cyber solutions that ensure that your bank, customers, and service levels remain untouched.

About the Author

13+ years of experience in the Information Technology and Communication industry | Founder of Secure Triad, a penetration Testing service Company in Australia.

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Author: Cyril James

Cyril James

Member since: Dec 29, 2020
Published articles: 1

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