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Rising need for Cybersecurity realized during festive season

 Published: December 14, 2020  Created: December 14, 2020

Rakesh Kharwal

The festive season is here, and this is the time of the year when consumer spending hits an all-time high. The volume of both online and offline transactions has increased and so have the chances of cyberattacks on individuals, and businesses.  So, it’s the need of the hour to increase cybersecurity measures, especially for banks and financial institutions.   
Digital payment systems are a prime target for cybercriminals throughout the year, but perhaps even more so during times of increased purchasing activity such as the holiday shopping season. Digital payments are expected to hit USD 726 billion by 2020. With the volume of e-commerce and digital transactions soaring, online payment platforms are now at a greater risk of falling prey to cyberattacks.

Cyberattacks on banks and financial institutions

Banks and financial institutions tend to attract cybercriminals as money, information, and the public are associated with them. This sector houses a wealth of sensitive client information such as bank and credit card details, it possesses the most liquid assets, and by hacking into its network, hackers can manipulate or disrupt markets, which interests state actors. 
In 2016, hackers stole nearly $100 million from Bangladesh’s central bank. Association for Financial Professionals in its 2018 survey report revealed that payments fraud substantially increased in 2017. In the same year, Equifax, a credit reporting agency, fell victim to the largest publicly disclosed breaches in history. Personal information and social security numbers of over 145 million compromised customers were leaked. 
Cyberattacks can damage, destroy, or steal important data, intellectual property, money, leading to fraud, embezzlement, identity theft, and disruption of normal business activities. Cybercriminals can sell confidential data or spy on organizations and its customers.
Due to the interconnectivity of banks, the spillover of cyberattacks on other banks is enormous. Thus, cyberattacks can greatly affect the solvency of a financial institution. Moreover, their reputation can be destroyed for insufficient information security compliance.
The threat of cyberattacks has always been greater during the festive season. According to a 2017 report, e-commerce transaction grew by 19 percent between Thanksgiving Day and 31st December as compared to the same time of the previous year while fraud attempts grew by 22 percent.

How can financial institutions keep a vigilant eye on their network?

Be it data breaches, identity thefts, false transactions, or disruption of usual business activities, the growing number of facts and figures are concerning. And the concern is even greater for the banking and financial sector. They must assess and improve their strategies, tactics, and technology for defense. This is where the cyber range comes into the picture.
A cyber range is a state-of-the-art controlled virtual environment that businesses can use for cyber warfare training. It provides a hyper-realistic, virtual SOC (Security Operation Center) environment, in which white hat hackers can train in responding to real-world, simulated cyberattacks, and prepare themselves to face these threats. Cyber range security training includes experiential real-world threat modules and personalized on hand simulations that enable security professionals to evade and neutralize various threats on an everyday basis. 
With the help of a cyber range training and simulation platform, financial institutions can create their cyber range, clone their network environment. They can customize your network infrastructure and security tools to align with their requirements. It opens infinite testing possibilities for software developers to validate their proof of concept. With active training against modern threats, the security team can easily recognize potential threats and learn how to deal with them.
By using the cyber range, businesses get ample opportunity to experiment and assess their processes, and technologies before they face an actual cyberattack. They’ll be well-prepared for different scenarios and times that require more vigilance such as the festive season when there’re more vulnerabilities for hackers to exploit.
Each year, banks and financial institutions see millions of attempted attacks that sometimes result in unrecoverable losses. Cyber threats are always going to be there and with time, they’ll evolve. With hackers becoming more and more sophisticated, these institutions will become even more vulnerable. So, besides basic cybersecurity training, leveraging a real-time simulated environment for SOC teams to practice and perfect their craft is a must if financial institutions are to protect their customers and themselves.

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