Cybersecurity in the Financial Sector: Safeguarding Customer Data and Combating Fraud Whilst Assessing Evolving Threats

06 November 2023

The financial sector is a high-stakes environment where trust and data security are paramount. Customers entrust financial institutions such as banks and building societies with their most sensitive information, making the industry a prime target for cybercriminals.

“Increasing number of cyberattacks: The financial sector is a prime target for cybercriminals, and the number of cyberattacks in the industry has been steadily increasing. These attacks often involve data breaches, theft of sensitive information, and financial fraud”.

Source: Statista - Global number of cyberattacks in the financial industry

Ani Petrosyan. (Aug 31, 2023). Cyber crime and the financial industry in the United States - Statistics & Facts.

To navigate this digital landscape successfully, financial organisations must prioritise cybersecurity to protect customer data and prevent fraud.

In this comprehensive blog post, we will explore the intricate role of cybersecurity in the financial sector. We will delve into various cybersecurity strategies, offer real-world examples, and provide insights into why this topic is not only critical but also fascinating in today's digital financial ecosystem.

We know that the financial sector is built on some form of trust, it has to be this way, considering they look after our most sensitive and valuable data. Customers have to be able to trust their banks, investment firms, and insurance providers with their life savings, investments, and personal information. A cybersecurity breach can not only result in financial losses but also erode trust, which may take years to rebuild.

The Evolving Threat Landscape

The evolving threat landscape in the financial sector is a constantly changing and dynamic environment. To provide detailed examples of how cyber threats are evolving, we'll highlight several common types of threats and how they have developed over time:

Phishing Attacks

In the past, phishing attacks involved unsophisticated emails that attempted to trick individuals into revealing their personal or financial information. These emails often contain spelling and grammar mistakes, so these can be easy to spot, most of the time.

Evolving phishing threats

Today, phishing attacks have become highly sophisticated. Cybercriminals use social engineering techniques, impersonate trusted entities (such as banks or government agencies), and craft convincing, well-designed emails that are difficult to distinguish from legitimate ones. They may also use SMS, social media, or instant messaging for phishing. Investing in email security tools can ensure your mailboxes are better protected from phishing emails.


Traditional Ransomware

Ransomware was once primarily spread through email attachments or malicious downloads. It would encrypt a victim's data and demand a ransom for decryption.

Evolving Threat

Ransomware attacks have evolved to involve advanced tactics. Attackers now employ targeted campaigns against specific organisations, leverage zero-day vulnerabilities, exfiltrate sensitive data before encryption, and use double extortion techniques (threatening to leak stolen data if the ransom is not paid).

Advanced Persistent Threats (APTs)

Traditional APTs

APTs were often associated with nation-state actors and targeted espionage. They used customised malware, zero-day exploits, and extensive reconnaissance.

Evolving Threat

APTs have become more widespread, with cybercriminal groups adopting APT-like tactics. They are better funded, have improved their evasion techniques, and are targeting a wider range of organisations. They use living-off-the-land techniques, where they use legitimate tools to avoid detection, and supply chain attacks to compromise third-party vendors.

Insider Threats

Traditional Insider Threats

Insider threats were typically accidental or malicious actions by employees or contractors, resulting from negligence or grievances.

Evolving Threat

Insider threats have expanded due to remote work and cloud-based collaboration tools. Organisations now face challenges in monitoring and securing data across multiple locations and devices. Insider threats may also involve third-party vendors and business partners.

Supply Chain Attacks

Traditional Supply Chain Attacks

These attacks were relatively rare and focused on infiltrating the supply chain to target specific organisations.

Evolving Threat

Supply chain attacks have gained prominence. Cybercriminals and nation-state actors exploit vulnerabilities in software supply chains, injecting malware into widely used applications, compromising hardware components, and leveraging trusted third-party vendors to distribute malware to multiple targets.


Traditional Cryptojacking

Cryptojacking involves illicitly using victims' computing resources to mine cryptocurrencies.

Evolving Threat

Cryptojacking has expanded to include more sophisticated techniques. Attackers now use fileless malware, botnets, and web-based mining scripts. They also target cloud environments and IoT devices to maximize their mining operations.

These are just a few examples of how cyber threats in the financial sector have evolved. To defend against these evolving threats, organisations must continuously adapt their cybersecurity strategies, invest in advanced threat detection and prevention tools, and prioritise employee cybersecurity training and awareness.

If you are a bank or financial institution, speak with our cyber team today. Askaris Cyber Security has spent 30 years protecting the world’s largest banks from global cybercriminals.

Get in touch with us today: | +44 (0)345 5577744