By: Krishnanand Bhat, Director- Technology Advisory, Nexdigm
The world of cybersecurity is constantly evolving, and it’s important to stay informed about the latest tactics used by cybercriminals. This detailed exposé aims to empower cybersecurity and financial professionals with the knowledge to defend against these threats effectively.
Digital banking is prevalent, providing cybercriminals ample room to launch sophisticated attacks on personal and corporate bank accounts. This paper meticulously examines five cutting-edge cyber threats that pose significant risks to banking accounts in 2023. By following the comprehensive recommendations, professionals can fortify their defenses and protect their clients’ assets from these threats.
Deepfake technology in social engineering: Deepfake technology, initially designed for entertainment, has evolved into a potent tool for cybercriminals. Through artificial intelligence and machine learning, these technologies fuel intricate social engineering attacks, enabling attackers to mimic trusted individuals with astonishing precision. This proficiency grants them access to critical data like banking credentials, resulting in significant financial repercussions. Staying cautious is imperative when encountering such requests to evade these cyber threats. The 2023 Symantec report reveals a worrisome trend, a 30 percent surge in deepfake-related fraud, notably targeting high-stakes sectors like finance and banking. High-net-worth individuals and finance professionals are at risk due to their access to substantial resources and sensitive data. The increasing sophistication of these attacks signifies a transformation in cybercriminal expertise, rendering traditional security measures less effective.
AI-enhanced phishing attacks: Phishing attacks have undergone a substantial evolution in the cyber threat landscape. Initially recognisable through generic email templates, these attacks have evolved into sophisticated AI-driven strategies. Modern phishing tactics now harness artificial intelligence to meticulously analyse extensive data pools, encompassing social media activities and corporate communications. This in-depth analysis enables the creation of highly personalised and contextually relevant messages, mimicking trusted sources like banks or financial institutions. This heightened level of customisation significantly enhances the credibility of these communications, amplifying the risk of recipients disclosing sensitive information, engaging with malicious links, or unwittingly authorising fraudulent transactions. In 2023, Phish Labs reported a staggering 40 percent increase in AI-powered phishing incidents, underscoring the rising sophistication of cyber attackers. This surge emphasises the imperative of deploying more advanced defensive strategies. Conventional phishing defenses have shown diminishing efficacy against these AI-infused attacks, compelling financial institutions to re-evaluate their cybersecurity stance.
Mobile banking application vulnerabilities: The exponential rise in mobile banking usage has led to an alarming increase in cyber threats targeting mobile banking applications. Cybercriminals are always searching for vulnerabilities in these applications, ranging from inadequate encryption to flaws in software design. It is concerning as mobile devices store personal information for financial transactions. Attackers expose and exploit these vulnerabilities to gain unauthorised access to user accounts, intercept sensitive data, and even initiate unauthorised transactions. It is vital to address this issue urgently to safeguard personal and financial information security. Kaspersky’s 2023 research highlights a 25 percent increase in cyberattacks targeting mobile banking applications. This increase indicates the growing interest of cybercriminals in exploiting the mobile banking sector, which is often perceived as a softer target compared to traditional online banking systems that are more heavily fortified.
Credential stuffing attacks: Credential stuffing is a prevalent and dangerous method cybercriminals use to breach bank accounts. This attack method exploits the widespread practice of password reuse across multiple sites and services. The perpetrators exploit leaked username and password combinations sourced from various data breaches, leveraging the extensive array of compromised credentials available on the dark web. The ease and success rate of these attacks are amplified by the abundance of compromised data. Individuals and entities lacking robust security measures face heightened susceptibility to such breaches. The Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report of 2023 highlights a significant 35 percent increase in credential stuffing attacks. This uptick can be attributed to the continuously growing repository of user credentials available on the dark web, making it easier for attackers to attempt access on a large scale.
IoT-based attack vectors: The proliferation of Internet of Things (IoT) devices has created a significant opportunity for cybercriminals to exploit, particularly when it comes to financial cyberattacks. Devices like smart home systems and wearables, deeply ingrained in our daily routines, now intersect with financial transactions. Unfortunately, these devices often lack robust security measures, rendering them prime targets for hacking. Exploiting these vulnerabilities enables attackers to infiltrate broader networks, ultimately aiming at sensitive financial information. Compounding this challenge, the intricate and diverse nature of IoT devices exacerbates their susceptibility to cyber threats. Urgent and robust actions are imperative to fortify these devices against cyber-attacks. A 2023 Cisco study underscored the severity of this issue, revealing that 20 percent of breaches involving IoT devices resulted in compromises to personal financial data. This statistic is a cause for concern, underscoring the prevalence of breaches in IoT devices and their profound potential to jeopardise financial security.
Financial institutions may look at the following practices that enhance their user protection:
- Identity verification protocols: Implement strict identity verification protocols beyond traditional methods. It includes integrating multi-factor authentication processes such as biometric verification, behavioural analytics, and challenge-response authentication, which provide additional layers of security.
- AI-driven solutions: Invest in real-time AI-driven solutions that detect deepfake audio and video is crucial. These systems analyse speech patterns, facial movements, and other biometric indicators to flag potential deepfakes.
- Employee security awareness: Organisations should prioritise regular and comprehensive employee training to combat phishing techniques. This training should include recognising subtle cues in AI-generated messages and understanding the evolving nature of phishing scams. Furthermore, It is essential to conduct regular awareness training programs to educate employees about the nature and risks of deepfake attacks. These should include identifying subtle inconsistencies in video or audio communications and the protocol for handling suspected deepfake intrusions.
- Anti-phishing campaigns: Financial institutions should extend their anti-phishing efforts to educate their clients, especially about recognising and responding to suspicious banking communications. It can include regular advisories and easy-to-understand guidelines.
- Policy updates: Continually assessing and updating security policies and protocols is essential to address the evolving nature of deepfake technology. It includes reviewing and strengthening incident response strategies.
- Mobile banking app security: Ensure mobile banking applications are regularly updated to address security vulnerabilities. Encourage users to install updates promptly to ensure they benefit from the latest security enhancements.
- Secure coding practices: Design secure mobile banking apps with solid encryption, secure coding, and automatic logout/lockout features to ensure a robust application design.
- Collaborate: Establish a collaborative approach by working with law enforcement agencies and cybersecurity experts to provide access to the latest intelligence on deep fake threats and the best mitigation practices.
- Customer awareness training: Initiate awareness campaigns highlighting the risks of deepfake technology in financial fraud for high-net-worth individuals and finance professionals. Educating clients on the signs of a deepfake attack can be critical in preventing fraud.
- Security testing: Perform regular penetration testing on mobile applications to identify and remediate security weaknesses before attackers can exploit them.
- Monitor: Implementing monitoring systems to detect compromised user credentials on the dark web and other forums is essential. Educate users to take immediate action to reset passwords if a breach is detected.
- Advanced security: Use advanced security systems that can detect unusual login attempts, such as logins from unfamiliar locations or devices, which could indicate a credential stuffing attempt.
- API security: Strengthen the security of APIs used in online banking platforms as they can be a target for credential stuffing attacks to automate login attempts.
- BOT attacks: Employ rate limiting and CAPTCHA mechanisms to thwart automated login attempts, a standard method used in credential stuffing attacks.
- IOT security: Isolate IoT devices on separate network segments to prevent a compromised device from giving attackers access to critical networks where sensitive financial data is stored.
- Educate customers: Create awareness on the potential risks and impacts associated with IoT devices and their secure use, especially in online banking and financial transactions.
Cybersecurity trends in 2024
The cybersecurity landscape in 2024 will become even more intricate and demanding. To stay ahead of the curve, businesses must anticipate and address key trends:
- Integrating AI and ML will become crucial for real-time threat detection and response.
- IoT expansion breeds vulnerabilities and will demand heightened security measures.
- Quantum computing threatens current encryption; adopting quantum-resistant methods will become imperative.
- Sophisticated cyberattacks will require proactive employee training for identification and response.
- Cyber insurance will become essential to mitigate costs linked to breaches and attacks.
- Leveraging blockchain will enhance security across supply chains and data transactions.
- Stricter privacy regulations will necessitate compliance to evade substantial penalties.
The future of cybersecurity demands a proactive and assertive approach. Businesses must stay on top of these trends to protect themselves from cyber threats and safeguard sensitive data. Companies can secure their digital assets by adopting consistent best practices and investing in new technologies.