R&C: How would you describe the extent of the cyber threat currently facing financial institutions (FIs)? Are you seeing an increase in ransomware attacks?

Parfitt: The July 2019 Capital One breach made it very clear, if it was not already, that the financial industry is not safe from large-scale attacks. This breach originated via a cloud vendor, but the many threats facing the financial sector continue to increase. Ransomware in particular has evolved into ‘malware disguised as ransomware’ – a ransomware attack that can now destroy, exfiltrate or encrypt data. We saw this with the NotPetya attack in 2017. Other threats include DDoS attacks, social media attacks, spear phishing, PoS malware, ATM malware and credential theft. The increased use of biometrics also poses new security threats, as does quantum computing. There continue to be threats stemming from employee error or carelessness. When employees use public Wi-Fi or a deficient private network, they can also open the FI up to hackers, as they do, of course, when they click on a spear phishing email. Business email compromise in particular was the subject of a recent US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) warning. Nine public companies that fell victim to these scams lost a total of nearly $100m to the perpetrators. The SEC noted that these scams were successful “at least in part, because the responsible personnel did not sufficiently understand the company’s existing controls or did not recognise indications in the emailed instructions that those communications lacked reliability”.

Oct-Dec 2019 Issue

Acuris Risk Intelligence

Cybersecurity Law Report