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Banks under cyberattacks: Can anything be done?

Since the pandemic, the number of cyber-attacks globally and in the region has seen a substantial increase, as organizations were forced to an immediate remote working scenario. What can be done?

On September 23, 2020, Hungarian banking and telecom services were disrupted by a powerful DDoS Infiltrators have adopted a new strategy that involves spending months hidden in the system 80% of organizations in the UAE reported at least one cyberattack in 2019

Most recently, the Reserve Bank of New Zealand (RBNZ) said that it was recently hit by a cyber breach to one of its data systems. The bank said that a third-party file-sharing service used by the bank to share and store some sensitive information was illegally accessed.

Cybersecurity risks to the financial system have grown in recent years, in part because the cyber threat landscape is worsening.

Here is a brief timeline of recent attacks:

Vizom Banking Malware

On October 19, 2020, researchers from IBM uncovered a new form of malware using remote overlay attacks to strike Brazilian bank account holders, which has been dubbed Vizom.

FIN11 Ransomware Campaign

On October 14, FireEye reported that FIN11, a financial cybercrime group active since 2016, has recently switched to ransomware as its primary mode of attack.

Japanese Exchanges Technical Glitch

On October 1, 2020, a technical glitch halted trading on Japan’s stock exchanges, including the Nikkei 225.

Hungarian Banks DDoS Attack

On September 23, 2020, several Hungarian banking and telecommunication services were disrupted by a powerful DDoS attack launched from computer servers in Russia, China, and Vietnam, telecoms firm Magyar Telekom reported.

Russian Banks Ransomware Campaign

On September 23, 2020, Group-IB reported that a cybercrime gang dubbed ‘OldGremlin’ had been targeting banks and other businesses in Russia with ransomware since early March 2020.

CIH Bank Theft

On August 28, 2020, Morocco’s CIH Bank experienced a breach of customer accounts resulting in unauthorized transactions.

Read: Saudi, UAE, and GCC banks facing major pressures in 2021

Read: Predictions and trends impacting finance and banking in 2021

UAE’s fight against cyber attacks 

Since the pandemic, the number of cyber-attacks in the UAE and the region has seen a substantial increase, as organizations were forced to an immediate remote working scenario, according to Attivo Networks, a leader in lateral movement attack detection and privilege escalation prevention.

As part of the efforts targeting the cybersecurity of the financial sector specifically, the Central Bank of the UAE (CBUAE) conducted a real-time cyberattack simulation exercise designed to test the resilience of the UAE’s banking sector against any potential cyber threats.

Remote working has increased the dependence on VPNs to connect UAE employees with the corporate networks, which provides an additional potential path for criminals to attack. 

Infiltrators have adopted a new strategy that involves spending months hidden in the system, carefully navigating through the network, and patiently waiting to locate their victim’s most valuable assets. 

A 2020 report by the Ponemon Institute revealed that the average time for companies in KSA and UAE to detect a data breach is 269 days. 

Respondents of the UAE 2020 KPMG cybercrime survey, showed nearly three-quarters of those surveyed expected businesses to invest significantly in cybersecurity.

MEA threat landscape

A report from Mordor Intelligence, the cybersecurity market in MEA was valued at $7.2 billion in 2019. Another report from ResearchAndMarkets.com the Middle East shows the cybersecurity market is projected to grow from $16 bn in 2020 to $28.7 bn by 2025 at 12.2% annually.  

The global cost of cybercrime is projected to hit $6 trillion annually by 2021, according to Cybersecurity Ventures’ 2020 annual cybercrime report. That is further anticipated to rise by 15% annually over the next 5 years to reach $10.5 trn by 2025.

Looking locally, over 80% of organizations in the UAE reported at least one cyberattack in 2019, a survey of 150 senior IT executives in the country by cybersecurity company Proofpoint found. Over half of the organizations also reported multiple incidents, it stated.

Get protection with cyber insurance

Revolut, a leading Neo Bank has teamed up with Superscript in order to provide flexible, “customizable” business insurance that can keep up with “modern-day risks.”

Nearly every business now depends on the Internet and has a lot to lose if their IT systems go down or critical data is lost, but still, 82% of these companies do not have cyber insurance, Revolut revealed. 

A survey conducted by Gallagher found that over 80% of small businesses didn’t believe they were at risk of being targeted by a cyber attack.

The Revolut team added that with the Internet of Things (IoT) devices becoming increasingly prevalent – expected to increase from 31 billion in 2020 to 75 billion in 2025 – it’s hard to keep track of and protect against potential security flaws.” 

They also mentioned that “95% of cybersecurity breaches are due to human error.”