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Ransomware Attacks and Remediation Strategies for Financial Institutions

Posted on November 23rd, 2022

Believe it or not, the Financial Services industry has one of the slowest vulnerability remediation rates, with a median of 426 days. “Financial regulators can no longer rely on static, point-in-time assessments to understand the cybersecurity risks posed to the financial system,” said Sachin Bansal, SecurityScorecard’s Chief Business and Legal Officer, in a recent BusinessWire article. “Continuous monitoring tools must be a part of every regulator's toolbox.”

In tandem with this, the Conference of State Bank Supervisors (CSBC) has reported its support of state regulators in advancing its system of state financial supervision to improve the cybersecurity posture of financial institutions. By partnering with CSBS, SecurityScorecard supports this mission by offering state financial regulators access to cybersecurity ratings and other services.

Understanding the significance of this partnership requires an understanding of the unique threats faced by the financial services industry and remediation strategies to prevent and mitigate these threats.

What are the most common ransomware attacks in the financial industry?

Ransomware is a constantly evolving problem, becoming more sophisticated as time passes. Today’s top threats will quickly become displaced by new and innovative threats.

That said, here are a few current common threats:

Conti

This ransomware actor was first seen in the wild in early 2019. It uses the same methodology as previous ransomware attacks like Dharma and Crysis but with a few key upgrades. For instance, it employs new anti-detection techniques that make detecting and removal difficult.

Chronos

This ransomware actor emerged in mid-2018 and targets financial institutions specifically. Its attacks are designed to evade detection by security solutions and can encrypt files on both local and network drives.

SamSam

SamSam ransomware has been active since late 2015, with a sharp increase in attacks seen in early 2018. This ransomware is manually deployed by attackers and specifically targets servers. It is often used with an exploit kit, making it difficult to defend against.

Tyupkin

Tyupkin ransomware was first seen in the wild in 2014, but there has been a recent resurgence in attacks using this malware. It specifically targets ATMs, allowing attackers to withdraw money directly from the machines.

CryptoLocker

CryptoLocker ransomware was first seen in 2013 and is one of the most well-known ransomware attacks. It uses strong encryption to render files inaccessible and demands a ransom be paid to decrypt the files.

Why is the financial industry a prime target for ransomware attacks?

The main reason ransomware attacks seem to focus on the financial sector is that ransomware attackers are after one thing: money. And what better way to get it than by targeting those who have the most of it?

In addition, financial institutions tend to have large networks with many different systems and devices connected to them. This provides a larger attack surface for ransomware attackers to exploit. Financial institutions also often store sensitive customer data, making them an attractive target.

Potential for large payouts

Financial institutions are where money is handled. Ransomware attackers target these institutions in hopes of getting a large payout. In many ransomware attacks, the attackers have demanded millions of dollars from their victims.

While it is true that ransomware attackers can target any organization, those in the financial sector are often viewed as soft targets. This is because many financial institutions do not have the proper cybersecurity measures to defend against these attacks.

Increased attack surface

An organization's attack surface is the sum of its parts. The more systems and devices you have, the more vulnerable you are to a potential breach. When it comes to financial institutions, attack surfaces can be huge. As an example, a large bank may have thousands of employees, each with their own laptop or desktop.

Each of these devices presents a potential entry point for ransomware attackers. In addition, many financial institutions use legacy systems that may not be properly patched or updated, making them even more vulnerable to attack.

Challenges to securing digital assets

There are many challenges that financial institutions face when it comes to securing their digital assets. One of the biggest is that these organizations tend to have large networks with many different systems and devices.

Another challenge is that financial institutions often store sensitive customer data, making them an attractive target for ransomware attackers who can sell this information on the black market. Paired with a reliance on legacy systems, ransomware attackers can access this information with greater ease.

Poor remediation strategies

Many financial institutions do not have proper ransomware remediation strategies in place. This is often due to a lack of understanding about ransomware and how these attacks work. As a result, many organizations are ill-prepared to deal with a ransomware attack when it occurs.

This can lead to a ransomware attack causing significant damage to an organization. In some cases, ransomware attacks have forced financial institutions to close operations entirely.

How to improve cybersecurity remediation for financial institutions

Financial institutions can take several approaches to improve their ransomware remediation strategies. One of the most important things is to educate employees about ransomware and how these attacks work. In addition, financial institutions should have a dedicated team in place that is responsible and trained to handle ransomware incidents.

Financial institutions should also invest in ransomware detection and prevention tools. These tools can help to stop ransomware attacks before they cause significant damage.

Ransomware remediation for financial institutions with SecurityScorecard

SecurityScorecard’s Active Security Services empower organizations to stay one step ahead of adversaries. Our active security services test the effectiveness of your organization's security controls and cyber posture, so you can prepare and defend properly against new and existing threats.

Our experts can also help financial institutions detect and prevent ransomware attacks by monitoring systems and devices and providing alerts when new vulnerabilities are detected. Ready to get started? Contact an expert today to learn how your financial institution can improve ransomware remediation strategies across your organization.


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