What's on the minds of financial institutions? – Report

Advancements and rising tensions are opening up new challenges

What's on the minds of financial institutions? – Report


By Mika Pangilinan

Ransomware attacks remain a top concern among global financial institutions, according to a report by the Financial Services Information Sharing and Analysis Center (FS-ISAC).

In its annual outlook on cyber threats, FS-ISAC specifically highlighted the proliferation of the ransomware-as-a-service model, which is when cyber criminals provide their “affiliates” with the malware and services necessary to orchestrate an attack, making such events “less attributable and of lower risk.”

Business email compromise was also cited as a significant issue for the financial services sector, described by FS-ISAC as the “most common and costly frauds” affecting firms all over the world. 

According to the report, FS-ISAC members said they experienced a 300% increase in business email scams from 2021 to 2022, with Most of these scams being payroll diversion requests or fraudulent payment requests. Moreover, while email remained the principal attack vector for such attacks, perpetrators have begun to increasingly include the use of other social media channels, such as WhatsApp.

“Taking the scam outside of the corporate email system decreases the likelihood of discovery and gives fraudsters the opportunity to introduce other technology to dupe their victims,” the report noted.

The impact of AI, Russia-Ukraine war

Additionally, the report identified how advances in artificial intelligence, deepfakes and text-to-speech tools have made executive impersonation schemes more convincing, while also warning of the role that ChatGPT and other generative language models might play in the cyber threat landscape.

It cited an instance in which ChatGPT “successfully responded to prompts to generate malicious code and to design convincing phishing lures,” in addition to cases where generative language models have been used to create “infostealer malware, encryption tools, and dark web marketplace automations for illegal goods such as stolen bank accounts or payment cards along with drugs and ammunition.”

“Cyber criminals are endlessly inventive, and aided by technological advances,” said Teresa Walsh, global head of intelligence at FS-ISAC. “The emergence of new technologies and malware delivery tactics will require institutions to ensure they keep up with evolving cyber threats on a continuous basis and focus on resilience so they can keep operating no matter what happens.”

FS-ISAC also examined the impact of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on cybersecurity, noting how the war has resulted in a surge of “hacktivist” DDoS attacks, data leakage, and website takeovers, some of which targeted financial services companies in countries that Russia considers to be hostile.

“Unfortunately, the growing involvement of non-state actors attacking on an ideological basis and the manipulation of information by malicious actors will continue to sow uncertainty across the landscape in actual and perceived security threats,” said Steven Silberstein, CEO of FS-ISAC. “The best tool available for financial institutions to combat this is intelligence sharing, allowing collaboration across the global industry and ensuring better cyber preparedness. Cyber threats often evolve faster than the tools we use to combat them, but our strength is in our community.”

What are your thoughts on the cybersecurity threats facing the financial services sectors? Feel free to comment below.

Related Stories

Keep up with the latest news and events

Join our mailing list, it’s free!