We live in the times of the fourth industrial revolution, which is characterized by a high pace of development and the use of the latest technological achievements to facilitate everyday activities and support people. This revolution did not bypass the sector, which is used by 76% of all mankind worldwide - the financial sector. Digitization of the banking industry allows you to quickly make transfers, NFC payments, control your account balance at any time using your phone, and much more. But it also means more cyber threats.

In order for end-users to safely use digital bank services, banking institutions must ensure that their entire system is properly protected against all kinds of threats, which multiply every day. In this article, we will take a closer look at the state of cybersecurity in banking, how NATEK ensures security for digital solutions for the largest banks in the industry , and together with our Experts we will answer one crucial question - How to secure banking institutions?

The importance of cyber security in the current banking industry

Customers entrust banks with huge amounts of sensitive data that should be secured at all times. However, if security system and procedures are not strong enough, a data breach may occur, which will entail a number of consequences, such as loss of customer trust, payment of compensation to affected customers, and spending significant resources to recover lost data. Considering that in North America alone over 200 million people use digital banking services (which is almost 60% of the total population), the database at risk is extensive.

Customers themselves as well as the systems they use are also exposed to cyber-attacks. With the development of digitization, and popularization of digital banking, the number of attacks, and their complexity increases. At the moment, the motivation for such actions is not only to steal personal data or funds but also to disrupt the economy. Hence, well-thought, and tailored cybersecurity solutions are a must-have for financial institutions.

"Cybersecurity is crucial in the banking industry, given its vulnerability to cyber threats. However, the implementation of security measures is not a one-size-fits-all task. Each banking project and customer presents unique security needs and risks, requiring tailored strategies. Therefore, adaptability is key, with cybersecurity seen not as a one-time act, but an ongoing, iterative process adapted to specific needs and emerging threats. It's about building a resilient security culture, beyond just technical measures." - Maciej Widomski NATEK Cybersecurity Architect

As our expert Maciej, who has been working in the IT industry for over 15 years, points out, cybersecurity in banking is not a solution, it is a process that must be constantly controlled and improved to meet the highest standards and maintain customer trust.

At NATEK, we know perfectly well that when designing an individual cybersecurity strategy, all aspects that may affect the resilience of the final solution must be taken into account. That is why we start each project with a security audit, which allows us to design a perfectly matched roadmap for further activities. Thanks to the throughout planning of the project, the process of cybersecurity control always runs without pauses.

Our thorough and professional approach has already been appreciated by the largest banks on the Polish and international markets. The trust of banks in NATEK is also manifested in the fact that between 2021 and 2022, we recorded an increase in sales of our IT services to the banking industry by 128%!

Top cyber security threats in banking

As we have concluded, the development of digital banking must go head to head with development of the cyber security measures, in order to omit the dangers that may seriously affect the integrity and stability of the bank's structures, as well as customers' trust. But what are the most common cyber security risks that the financial industry faces?

"In my perspective, the banking industry faces a variety of cybersecurity threats. These include deceptive practices like phishing, where users are tricked into revealing sensitive data, and malware attacks, involving system infiltrations to steal information or disrupt operations. Also critical to note are Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks, leading to service disruptions by overwhelming servers, and data breaches that result in unauthorized access and extraction of sensitive data. The complexity of these threats underscores the need for diverse, robust security strategies." - Maciej Widomski NATEK Cyber Security Architect

As Maciej showed, digital banking is exposed to a number of threats aimed at disrupting the operations of institutions and stealing information. The aforementioned phishing, DDoS attacks, malware attacks, or data breaches are unfortunately not everything that cybercriminals have in their arsenal. Another cyber risk worth keeping in mind is ransomware. BSA (Bank Secrecy Act) data show that in 2021 alone the value of ransomware incidents in US were estimated at a staggering $886 million.

As Kuba Borkowski, our Modern Workplace / M365 Solution Architect, mentions:

"I remember that some time ago many financial institutions were struggling with cryptolockers that encrypted the entire system, and to unlock it they had to pay the attackers large sums in bitcoins. The procedure itself was dangerous because, for example, in the USA, it balanced on the line of legality, as it could be considered as negotiating with terrorists."

Nowadays, attack techniques are becoming more and more sophisticated, therefore without adequate security and systems, financial institutions, and their customers are at constant risk.

How to secure banking institutions?

Making banking institutions cyber secure is an individual task, as all implemented solutions should correspond with the profile of the institution, scale of the organization, its visibility, and needs. Moreover the implemented cyber security measures should always go in line with guidelines imposed by the government. Our expert, Maciej, asked about this issue confirmed that the individuality is crucial, but also gave examples of solutions that his clients mainly chose.

"Each bank's specific security strategy should be tailored to its unique needs and risk profile. It is essential to have a proactive, rather than reactive, approach to cybersecurity in the banking industry. Among my customers, I see that typically they are implementing a multi-faceted strategy to secure their operations from various threats. They combat phishing attacks with regular staff training, enhancing their ability to spot and avoid these scams. To mitigate malware, they prioritize routine system updates and employ Intrusion Detection and Prevention Systems to proactively tackle threats. All customers are actively investing in DDoS protection measures, which include deploying sophisticated traffic analysis tools to detect unusual patterns, implementing rate-limiting controls to regulate network traffic, and utilizing scalable cloud resources to absorb and disperse attack traffic, all as a part of a comprehensive strategy to ensure service continuity even under the most aggressive DDoS attacks.

To protect against data breaches, they implement data encryption standards and restrict data access by following least-privilege principle. They also leverage network segmentation to avoid the potential spread of an attack (lateral movement). Finally, regular audits, penetration testing, and a solid incident response plan form a robust foundation to identify vulnerabilities, test security measures, and quickly address any breaches.

Major cloud vendors, thanks to their significant investments in the cybersecurity space, offer an extensive array of tools and services to combat various threats, including DDoS attacks, thereby providing essential support to banking institutions in their ongoing cybersecurity efforts. And actually I notice a visible trend in the banking industry where institutions are increasingly migrating certain workloads to the cloud." - Maciej Widomski NATEK Cyber Security Architect

Therefore, there are many ways to protect against cyber attacks, and Maciej listed only the most used ones that he had contact with in his long-term career. On the other hand, Kuba Borkowski, who also has a rich background related to cyber security, looks at the question "How to secure banking institutions?" from the M365 Solution Architect perspective.

"At the moment, a greater threat than well known malware are complex actions that are aimed at obtaining credentials, information and blocking the computer. Probably each of us is familiar with Microsoft Defender and its EDR (endpoint detection and response) solution Defender for Endpoints. It works great as a platform which main purpose, as the name suggests, is to prevent, detect, investigate and respond to advanced threats. It works on the basis of continuous evaluation on a given machine. It also has the ability to conduct behavioural analysis, so if the tool detects something strange, a deviation from the norm, it immediately informs the admin. It is a cloud-based solution, so if someone is attacked, this attack is recorded in the database and we are more protected against it. Defender for Endpoint is part of the entire security system. The mainly used solutions are SIEM or SOAR systems with which the whole infrastructure is integrated. These are huge and complex solutions that are designed to detect threats before they can do any harm." - Kuba Borkowski Modern Workplace / M365 Solution Architect

As you see, cybersecurity in banking is a very extensive field affected by a multitude of factors and variables. The complexity of this aspect means that there is no single solution that will ensure the safety of institutions and clients.

Therefore, cybersecurity outsourcing is becoming more and more common among banks. It allows for the rapid implementation of the necessary specialists who will be responsible for the implementation and maintenance of tailored cybersecurity structures at the highest level.

For 15 years of our existence on the IT services outsourcing market, we have delivered dozens of projects related to cyber security in banks, and a high number of them have been ongoing for many years, because, as we mentioned, cyber security is a process, not a one-time solution.

Summing up

The importance of cybersecurity in the banking industry amid the rapid digitization and increasing cyber threats can't be stressed enough. The banking sector deals with vast amounts of sensitive customer data, making it a prime target for cyberattacks. To ensure cybersecurity, banking institutions need a proactive and tailored approach that addresses their unique needs and risk profiles.

NATEK, as an IT services company, plays a crucial role in providing comprehensive cybersecurity solutions for banking institutions. Our experts conduct security audits and tailor cybersecurity strategies according to each client's specific needs. As we offer a range of services, from implementation to monitoring and analysis, we always make sure that the chosen solutions meet all requirements and effectively protect against cyber threats.

Our competences can be confirmed by the fact that the computer world magazine placed us in the top ten in their "The largest providers of outsourced and managed services in 2022" ranking!

If you want to secure your business with a proven company, get in touch with us, and together we will work out solutions that will guard your infrastructure for the years to come!