The days of daylight bank robberies with intruders rushing in with guns, masks, and explosives, then leaving with the money is now almost a thing of the past. Banks and other financial institutions are well-fortified and protected these days and it is becoming increasingly difficult for conventional robbers to physically scale their massive security features. But with the advancements in technology and the rising innovation therein, criminals are fast resorting to committing heists of another nature and stature, altogether. Welcome to the dark and unholy recesses of cybercrime!
The BFSI sector around the globe is still fraught with the constant waves of cyber onslaughts where prodigious masterminds stealthily carry out hi-tech breaches, heists, invasions, data thefts, etc. that result in a tremendous financial loss every year. Cybersecurity Ventures predicted that cybercrime will cost the world $6 trillion annually by 2021. Under the weight of the pandemic, the BFSI sector too has witnessed a digital revamping in its various operations and processes. This has made the banks and payment companies an official choice of prey for the countless hordes of highly skillful and technologically enrichedcyber miscreants that utilize the latest innovations.
Being a highly lucrative operation model that guarantees phenomenal returns along with the added upside of relatively low risk and detectability, cybercriminals are optimizing a plethora of diabolical cyberattacks to immobilize the financial sector. The threat landscape of these attacks ranges from Trojans, malwares, ATM malwares, ransomwares, mobile banking malwares, data-breaches, institutional invasion, data thefts, fiscal breaches, etc. and can effectively jeopardize a banking institutefinancial health to a crippling halt.
This surging tide of cyberattacks on the country’s BFSI sector is even more perturbing, on account of the critically sensitive nature of the data involved. A data breach within a banking system instantly imperils the various account holders in the bank, plus their money and accounting details. Not to mention the enormous bad heat it would create for the sector.
With such phenomenal monetary benefits and incentives involved, new generations of highly adept cyber-fiends are striving to knock down the defensive shields of the ill-protected Indian BFSI sector. By using the latest new-age hacking and invasive software tools embroidered around a cloak of anonymity and finesse, these cyber outlaws are seemingly bludgeoning the security systems and data-based infrastructures of the country’s banking and financial ecosystem and stealing assets worth millions of dollars. Armed with the latest revolutionary hacking technologies and cutting-edge innovations that are specially intended for such dark purposes, the ominous march of the cyber attacking legions, if unchecked and unguarded against, will surely bring the entire BFSI sector of the country to the ground.
The banking sector is essentially the backbone of a nation’s economy and any threat to them will directly endanger the sovereign state. Thus, creating an agile and highly-resilient threat-counter mechanism for all financial institutions of the country is a vital need of the hour. If hackers and cybercriminals intent on optimizing novel technologies and software enhancements and tools to realize their nefarious schemes, the banks too should compose anequally resounding and robust risk mitigation system to identify, isolate and exterminate all potential threats.
There is a vehement need for a pan-industry transformation that is built utilizing novel state-of-the-art information along with the latest cybersecurity architecture stacks that are proficient in countering the never-ending spree of cyber-attacks and data breaches on an everyday basis. There are a variety of sophisticated multi-oriented and layered cybersecurity tools and procedures that prove effectively fruitful in neutralizing such a wide array of cyber-threats that constantly lurk under the surface.
A bank must utilize the latest innovations and advanced threat-monitoring mechanisms and stringent tools that expertly combat the rapid volleys of cyberattacks such as firewalls, proxy servers, SIEM (Security Incident and Event Management), two- factor authentication with tokens, PIM (Privileged Identity Management), FIM (File Integrity Management), WAF (Web Application Filtering), APT (Advanced Persistent Threats). These counterattacking measures are better optimized by professionals who have had a practical understanding and experience in combating cyberattacks. Being an intensely dynamic domain, cybersecurity cannot be learned in just classrooms and lecture halls. A cybersecurity aspirant must undergo the various flights of real-time and experience-driven simulation programs that recreate real-world cyberattacks in a real-time high-definition mode.
Another glaring issue that exposes the superfluous nature of the various cyber-security frameworks in the country is the colossal deficiency witnessed in the number of skilled cybersecurity staff in the country. The country still suffers from a major dearth of adroit CyberTech personnel and has less than 100,000 of them in contrast to the projected national requirement of 1 million cybersecurity professionals.
Thus, besides transitioning to the latest cybersecurity software solutions and leveraging the newest advancements in data security, it is also imperative that the sector ushers a pan-industry up-skilling and essential training for its employees in best cybersecurity practices. Having the right cybersecurity training program is crucial to deter the swarming number of cyberattacks in this age of digital blitzkrieg. Therefore, robust cybersecurity can only be accomplished by utilizing real-time and experiential cybersecurity simulations and training exercises that prepare professionals to counter the various kinds of cyberattacks and breaches in a real-world environment.
Views expressed in this article are the personal opinion of Rakesh Kharwal, MD-India, Cyberbit.