How to keep the bank vault safe in today’s digitally connected world (part 1)

Things have changed a lot since the days of bank robberies by the likes of Bonnie and Clyde.

How to keep the bank vault safe in today’s digitally connected world (part 1)

. In today’s digital world, bank robbers are often anonymous faces behind a computer screen, and a traditional vault won’t keep your digital valuables safe anymore.  Criminals no longer need to physically break into the bank, they can hack its systems in safety from thousands of miles away and make off with billions without breaking a sweat. It’s not just theft that’s a problem either; cyber-criminals have also developed ways to disrupt services to prevent financial firms from trading, inflicting a catastrophic loss of short-term revenues and long-term reputational damage.


The Verizon 2015 Data Breach Investigations Report found that two-thirds of all cyber-attacks against the finance industry over the last year followed just three basic patterns, giving some vital clues as to what to watch for and how to guard against them.


Attack #1 — Denial of Service (DoS)


DoS attacks accounted for over a third (32 percent) of incidents in the finance industry and are continuing to grow in size and frequency. Unlike other attack types, which expose sensitive data like payment card details, intellectual property or health records, DoS attacks are primarily about disruption. Essentially, these attacks flood online systems, such as internet banking sites or online trading platforms, with vast amounts of data in order to overload them and take services offline. DoS attacks can last several days, so it’s vital to have a plan in place to deal with such a threat. Some basic tips for mitigating the risk of a DoS attack include:

  • Be the man with the plan: Ensuring company policies include dealing with larger attacks and briefing key operations staff on the best course of action if an attack occurs is a vital first step in being ready to deal with a DoS attack. There should also be a solid strategy that details what should be done if the initial anti-DoS service fails.
  • Put the plan through its paces: It’s best not to wait for an incident to occur to discover that there are gaps or failures in the response plan; it should be tested in advance to make sure it works. Tests should be undertaken regularly as infrastructure and processes change and as new DoS techniques emerge.
  • Don’t put all your eggs in one basket: It’s best not to allow less important systems to act as a gateway to more important ones. Critical systems should be segregated onto different network circuits.

In the second part of this blog, I’ll take a closer look at the other two most common attack patterns used in attacks against the financial services sector, and outline some further tips on how they can be mitigated.