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A hack on financial service payments could cost the world $3.5 trillion, Netwrix comments

November 2023 by Ilia Sotnikov, security strategist and vice president of user experience* at Netwrix

A few weeks ago, Lloyd’s of London’s research revealed that an attack on financial service payments could cost the global economy $3.5 trillion. In fact, the UK economy would undergo five-year losses of $165 billion. Given the interconnected nature of the financial services sector, a collective and collaborative approach to cybersecurity is imperative, but organisations themselves have a responsibility to implement the best practices.

Ilia Sotnikov, security strategist and vice president of user experience* at Netwrix believes that the finance community should adopt the following measures in order to prevent an event like this from becoming a reality:

“One of the biggest challenges of the cyber insurance industry is the growing likelihood of cyber events. No one is insuring you for a possible rainy day in London because we know it will very likely happen, and soon. Similarly, the proliferation of cyberattacks can undermine the whole sector. Even a 3.32% probability for a major impact scenario from Lloyd’s study is way too high.

“Research like this increases the issue’s visibility and calls to action to drive the overall risks down, which is good for society and for the insurance business. The study shows that the risk is systemic: like geopolitical conflicts or extreme weather events, it can have an impact on billions of people. Potential solutions for a global problem like this also require global collaboration across governments, industry, and academia, but this does not mean that each organisation shouldn’t do its part.

“The financial sector is among the most mature verticals in terms of cyber security. It has always faced both high risks and high regulatory pressure. Also, according to Netwrix report, in order to reduce the financial impact of a data breach they should meet various requirements of cyber insurance policy: multi-factor authentication (MFA), patch management, regular security training for business users, identity and access management (IAM), and privileged access management (PAM). Large banks and international financial organisations are building comprehensive and multi-layered defense strategies with a focus on resilience. Some of the widely used cyber security practices originate from the offices of the CISO in one financial organisation or another.

“Financial services should learn from the community and should invest in a balanced approach to a cyber defense based on, for example, the NIST cybersecurity framework, with a focus on business resilience. To reduce the likelihood of a breach, organisations should enable their security team with clear visibility into their systems and eliminate standing privileges there. They must consider implementing the best practices of PAM and MFA.

“According to Verizon 2023 data breach investigation report, the typical attacks on financial organisations are external (66%) and 97% are financially motivated. Not all the attacks are very sophisticated, but the sheer volume of them can be tiresome for the defenders. Security controls should include solutions like Active Directory (AD) security that thwart less sophisticated attacks by automating the typical remediation actions and leave more time and space for the security team to focus on the highest risks.

"Financial organisations are constantly under pressure due to the widespread availability of attack infrastructure and tools, which lowers the barrier for less advanced malicious actors to pose a real threat. However, implementing practices such as understanding your environment and business processes, investing in detection and response processes and tools, and comprehending how the business would recover from a cyber event can help them better handle these existing threats.”

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