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Global Cyber Threats to Financial Systems

Maintaining constant vigilance against cyber threats is a practice everyone should follow. With online banking and corporate remittance, e-commerce and other digital transactions becoming more widespread, the opportunities for cybercriminals to exploit vulnerabilities are constantly increasing.

Protecting yourself against potential cyberattacks that can cause you to lose money and fall victim to identity theft starts with knowing the different online threats that could impact financial systems and services. This is a crucial step to take if you regularly conduct digital transactions.

Being aware of these cyber threats can help you avoid them and know how to deal with them when you do come across them.

Financial Cyber Threats to Watch Out For

There are different types of cyber threats that could impact financial systems this year. The top ones you should know about are the following:

1. Ransomware and Malware

Malware refers to malicious software used to infect and gain unauthorised access to IT systems to steal data or money and disrupt their functions or services. Examples of these are:

  • CryptoLocker
  • Bad Rabbit
  • Scareware
  • AIDS Trojan
  • Spyware
  • Locky

Ransomware is a type of malware that encrypts files on devices and servers. Access to them will be restored once the victim pays the attacker their ransom demand.

Financial companies store plenty of sensitive client data and files, making them the ideal targets of malware schemes. However, you can also be vulnerable to these threats, especially if you’re using infected or unsecured computers.

Cybercriminals can use trojans to steal your online banking credentials and credit card data. They can also use spyware to obtain confidential data and track your activities, snooping for sensitive information, such as your passwords and bank account details.

Because of these reasons, you need to be on guard against these cybersecurity threats and be aware of new malware that pops up.

2. Social Engineering

Social engineering exploits human error instead of technical vulnerabilities. It involves cybercriminals tricking individuals into giving them sensitive information and granting them unauthorised access to their accounts.

Phishing, specifically email phishing, is the most widely used social engineering technique and one of the biggest financial services cyber threats today. Cybercriminals send emails that appear to be genuine communications from legitimate companies, agencies or well-known personalities.

When you open the email and its infected links or attachments, malware may be installed on your device or redirect you to a counterfeit web page that collects your login credentials.

Social engineering attacks can result in identity theft, data breaches, and financial loss. These threats are constantly evolving, using new tactics, trends and technologies to entice you to open their emails, text messages and other communications.

As such, you must keep up with the latest news about this cyber threat and be wary about opening any suspicious online messages.

3. DDoS Attacks

The financial industry is constantly being barraged by distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks. This form of cybercrime overwhelms servers with Internet traffic or exploits vulnerabilities in website codes and systems to make online resources inaccessible to users.

Financial companies are popular targets since they hold a large market share and their users rely on them for various services. Moreover, they store sensitive data, including customer account details.

Although DDoS attacks rarely have a huge impact on the overall security of a website, they can limit its availability, affecting the user’s experience. The attackers can use this opportunity to conduct more intrusive attacks or disrupt security updates on the site. They can also extort money from the financial company. 

As a customer, a DDoS attack can cause you inconvenience since it can delay you from making quick transactions when needed.

4. Mobile Automated Transfer Systems (ATS) Attacks

An ATS attack involves using malware to make fraudulent transactions via the user’s banking app or their bank’s automated transfer service.

Cybercriminals can insert the malware into the banking app by exploiting accessibility services or carrying out an overlay attack.

This cyber threat is expected to become widespread since many people now use mobile banking and account-to-account (A2A) payments. Moreover, cybercriminals find it faster to hack bank apps and get quick cashouts using this technique.

Aside from financial loss, cybercriminals can use an ATS attack to hack your computer and other devices. This threat can also result in SMS interception, wherein attackers read and modify the text messages you receive and send on your mobile phone.

5. AI-Powered Cyberattacks

This type of cyberattack uses machine learning tools to detect and exploit vulnerabilities in systems and processes.

An AI-powered cyberattack involves using generative AI to mimic legitimate ads, emails, and other messages. Because the content is well-made, identifying which is real and which is fake can be tough.

This cyber threat is highly targeted and can evade traditional cybersecurity solutions that are incapable of detecting it. Since it is AI-powered, it can learn and adapt to additional defense systems and figure out ways to bypass them.

These reasons make AI-powered cyberattacks a massive threat in cybersecurity today.

Protecting Yourself From Financial Services Cyber Threats

Providers of retail and corporate finance services in the UAE are constantly implementing new cybersecurity strategies and strengthening them to address potential threats proactively. Choosing the right companies and platforms for your transactions can give you assurance that you are protected from potential cyberattacks.

Additionally, you can protect yourself from cyber threats when using financial services by following these tips: 

  • Install and use banking and money transfer apps only from trusted companies.
  • Use strong passwords and enable biometrics or multifactor authentication (MFA) on your apps.
  • Update your apps and operating systems regularly.
  • Review your app permissions frequently and change the settings when needed.
  • Avoid using public Wi-Fi or Internet connection when making online transactions or logging in to your banking, mobile payment or money transfer apps.
  • Use a VPN and turn on your firewall when accessing apps via public Wi-Fi or hotspots.
  • Always use your own devices.
  • Avoid opening malicious links, emails and messages.

By staying updated and practicing safe online behaviours, you can safeguard your financial assets and enjoy the benefits of using digital financial services.

Remember, vigilance is key. Stay informed about emerging threats and remain cautious when engaging in online activities.

Visit our Fraud Prevention page to read additional tips for protecting yourself against online scams and financial cyber threats. Together, let’s empower ourselves with the knowledge and tools needed to stay safe in an increasingly digital era.

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Global Cyber Threats to Financial Systems