Industry Focus > Financial Services
Protecting and Defending Financial Institutions from Global Cyber Threats and Economic Crimes with Real-Time Cyber Defense Threat Management
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The financial services industry is critical to a nation's economic growth and development. Financial firms combined have the highest earnings in the world, and the sector's overall business performance has a significant direct impact on the world's economy and the way the market operates. Banks, credit card companies, credit unions, stock brokerages, investment funds, and consumer finance companies help billions of individual customers save money, obtain loans, build credit, and participate in investment opportunities. At the same time, these financial companies enable businesses to invest in new companies, enhance business productivity, and expand business opportunities to gain crucial market shares in the competitive global marketplace. The tremendous sums of money being processed and managed by financial service firms as well as the vast quantities of confidential customer data stored in databases and servers makes financial institutions an attractive target to profit-minded cyber criminals and organized cyber-crime groups servicing the needs of the black market for stolen and compromised data. Although financial institutions in general have historically been more effective in safeguarding their customer's data than most industries due to the heavy regulatory requirements and industry standards with which the sector must meet and comply, recent statistics report that the number of malicious cyber attack traffic against banks and financial services firms have skyrocketed over the past year. Cyber crime has become the second most frequent type of economic crime being experienced by financial services companies, after asset misappropriation, according to a survey conducted by Pricewaterhouse Coopers. The study also revealed that half of the survey respondents perceive the risk of cybercrime to have increased in the last 12 months, compared with 36% for other industries. In addition to the growth in cybercrime, asset misappropriation and fraud were the other two types of economic crime that increased over the last year. 45% of respondents reported that their financial firm suffered fraud in the last 12 months, a much higher figure than the 30% reported by other industries. The survey also reported there has been a 50% increase in senior management fraud in the last two years. In 2011 alone, the FBI has investigated more than 400 cases of fraudulent wire transfers from business bank accounts that total about $255 million in stolen funds.
The financial services industry today is in a difficult position faced with many business and security challenges as more transactions occur via online channels in the global market. The financial firm's rapid integration and increasing reliance on the interconnected network systems as well as the Internet in order to expedite financial transactions, improve service delivery, and accelerate efficiency has provided the industry more economic prosperity, but at the same time elevated the industry's susceptibility to cyber attacks. Regulators are increasingly viewing cybercrime as a major area of focus, and financial institutions are expected to have appropriate systems and controls in place to mitigate and combat this growing threat. Although cyber-security is a top concern for financial institutions, only 18% of the Pricewaterhouse Cooper survey respondents said they had in place the following cyber incident response mechanisms: in-house capabilities to prevent and detect cybercrime, in-house capabilities to investigate cyber crimes, access to forensic technology investigators, and/or a media and PR management plan and shut down procedures. In addition, 2 in 5 respondents had not received any cyber security training and a quarter of respondents said there is no regular formal review of cybercrime threats by the CEO and the Board. It appears that some financial service organizations are complacent about the security risks that cybercrime poses in spite of alarming concerns about potential damage stemming from cyber threats. The study has cited that reputation damage is the biggest fear for 40% of respondents as the costs of a actualized security incident can be very steep and damaging to both the financial companies and customers.
The financial services industry is a key target for cyber criminals with more attacks being made against this sector than compared to other industries. Cyber attacks against financial firms and their customers have become big business with lucrative returns on investment. The escalating number of cyber intrusions aimed at financial services can be attributed to a number of unique factors and challenges. Financial companies are behind in establishing comprehensive security protective measures to protect their business and customer databases, creating an ever widening and disastrous gap between security protection and security threats. According to Ernst & Young's 14th Annual Global Information Security Survey report, although 72% of survey respondents across industries see increasing levels of risk due to external threats, security implementation remains low. Moreover, only one-third of respondents said their companies have updated their information security strategies within the past year. In addition, smaller banks and credit unions are also plagued with limited budget and resource constraints to invest in effective IT security solutions to protect network systems and sensitive information. Furthermore, although larger financial firms have generally "been ahead of the curve" when it comes to recognizing cyber-security attacks, they also need to be able to respond more effectively to evolving threats, especially with the spread of malware exploits and the use of botnets to implement cyber attacks on a massive scale. According to BITS Financial Services Roundtable Organization, "The financial services industry is a primary target for malware-enabled cyber attacks because financial institutions operate software that tracks ownership of monetary assets. Malware development and distribution is highly organized and controlled by criminal groups that have formalized and implemented business models to automate cybercrime. Malware is typically used to steal information that can be readily monetized, such as login credentials, credit card and bank account numbers, and intellectual property such as computer software, financial algorithms, and trade secrets. Nearly three out of every four new malware strains called Trojans are designed to sit silently on users' computers and steal their information." The Aite Group, a leading independent research and advisory firm serving the financial services industry, also reports that malware and other online attacks will be responsible for an estimated $210 million in loses through corporate account takeovers in North America. The group also estimates that there will be 87 million new strains of malware released per year by the end of 2015.
Why financial institutions rely on Tactical FLEX, Inc.
- To proactively monitor and respond to all security breaches including malware and botnet exploits, which can help prevent actualized data breaches as well as reduce remediation expenses.
- To deliver a market-leading network security solution that will also provide substantial cost savings, while improving risk management practices and meeting regulatory requirements at the same time.
- To drive operational efficiently through the intelligent use of automation technology. Aanval's automated database management simplifies the security tasks of capturing and managing a large number of security events as well as creating valuable user and database activity reports to monitor both external and insider threats and delivering real-time alerts.
- To obtain real-time situational awareness in order to quickly and accurately summarize network event information and provide IT departments with the resources they need to identify actual risks and make sound decisions during critical moments.
- To effectively deliver crucial scalability to accommodate additional network growth, and to also manage, archive, and store more than 1 billion events.
- To improve network security posture across all networks including WLAN network devices, thereby protecting all critical assets and online channels.
Tactical FLEX, Inc. Solution
Cyber crimes pose serious financial and emotional risks to the financial company's brand, reputation, and customers. Financial companies typically must guard against attacks from outside their networks. In financial crimes, the main culprits are usually outside the organizations. Cyber criminals are always looking for innovative ways to commit fraud and are armed with sophisticated malware and hacking techniques to net more new victims. Simple measures can go a long way to deter some attacks, but in order to effectively prevent successful security breaches from actualizing and becoming a persistent threat, a complete network security solution with situational awareness and a strong intrusion detection technology is required.
Tactical FLEX, Inc. understands that financial firms need a comprehensive, scalable, and affordable real-time threat management solution that gives financial companies of all sizes the technology power and operational efficiency to accelerate the accurate detection of security threats. Aanval's SIEM and IDS cyber defense solution provides around-the-clock monitoring of all in-bound and out-bound network traffic, including both user and database access activities, and the effective detection and prevention of malware exploits. In addition, Aanval will pinpoint security risks in order to safeguard critical assets and customer databases, as well as maintain regulatory compliance. Aanval's next-generation technology features include a unique situational awareness engine that allows financial institutions to quickly identify which specific devices, services, and approximate areas of the network that are most at risk and which are more likely to be a problem in the future. In addition, Aanval also delivers multiple source event collection, correlation and archiving, and false-positive reducing event validation which further delivers advanced event analyses, making it simpler to investigate and prevent anomalous behaviors including advanced persistent threats (APTs).
Additionally, Tactical FLEX, Inc. is a trusted security vendor, with its products and services are the essential security components for both domestic and foreign financial service companies across the globe.