Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Attacks/Breaches

10/2/2018
06:30 PM
Connect Directly
Twitter
LinkedIn
RSS
E-Mail
0%
100%

Financial Sector Data Breaches Soar Despite Heavy Security Spending

Banks and other financial firms have disclosed three times as many breaches so far this year than they did in 2016, Bitglass says.

The preparedness of banks to deal with threats, such as a recently reported plan by criminals to launch mass attacks on ATM machines worldwide, would appear to be shaky at best considering the number of data breaches in the financial sector this year.

Security vendor Bitglass recently analyzed data breaches disclosed by banks, insurance companies, investment firms, and other financial services institutions thus far in 2018 and compared it with the same data from two years ago.

Between January and August this year, financial firms disclosed three times as many breaches as they did in the same period in 2016—103 in 2018 compared to 37 two years ago. The top three breaches alone this year compromised more records than the 64,512 records exposed in all of 2016, Bitglass said.

Hacking and malware were once again the primary causes like they were in 2016, and accounted for 74% of the data breaches that financial companies have disclosed so far this year. Nearly 15% of the breaches resulted from accidental data disclosures. 

Among the financial institutes that have disclosed breaches this year is RBC Royal Bank, Goldman Sachs, Fidelity Investments, Sallie Mae, and Dun & Bradstreet. The biggest incident involved an employee at SunTrust Banks who stole the names, addresses, phone numbers, and account balances of some 1.5 million of the banks' customers. In another instance, attackers managed to gain access to the Royal Bank of Canada's travel rewards website and steal payment card data belonging to some 66,000 individuals.

The breach numbers suggest that while financial services companies spend more on cybersecurity than most other organizations — and are more heavily regulated than others — the sector as a whole doesn't appear to becoming a whole lot more secure over time.

One of the reasons, of course, is that cybercriminals target banks and financial institutions more heavily than organizations in most other industries (with the exception of government and healthcare). Banks and other financial firms have significantly better defenses against malicious activities, but precisely for that reason they also tend to be targets of much more sophisticated threats.

Just one example of the constant and rapidly evolving threats that banks face is a new global campaign that cybercriminals are reportedly preparing to conduct large-scale theft from ATMs worldwide. The FBI has supposedly warned banks to be on the lookout for the attacks in coming months.

Another reason is that financial services institutions, like organizations in other sectors, have a tendency to over-rely on the tools they already have in place, says Jacob Serpa, product marketing manager at Bitglass. Companies often tend to stick with their existing tools because they have invested significant funds in them, and because they overestimate the ability of the products to deal with current and emerging threats, he says.

Regulations such as the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act and PCI DSS have been useful in getting financial companies to pay more attention to security, but many continue to treat compliance with these regulations as the end goal of their security efforts.

"Companies should consider compliance with regulations like GLBA and PCI DSS as the bare minimum for cybersecurity, while understanding that much more needs to be done to be truly secure," Serpa says.

Not Just About the Money

Market research firm IDC expects that enterprises worldwide will spend north of $91 billion on cybersecurity this year. Banks, the federal government, and discrete manufacturers will be the biggest spenders, with more than $27 billion in spending.

While such spending might indicate banks are getting better at security, that is not always the case. Deloitte's cyber risk service practice earlier this year surveyed CISOs from 51 organizations in the financial services sector including banks, insurance companies, and investment management firms about their cyber risk management strategies.

Deloitte's study showed that the amount of money an organization spends on cybersecurity doesn't automatically translate to better security. Deloitte found that many financial companies with below average security spending had a better risk posture than companies that spent a lot more. Factors that did affect security were top-level accountability, a culture that emphasized shared responsibility for security, and a risk-focused approach to mitigating security threats.

At the same time, Deloitte also found that larger financial companies are not allocating enough resources to cybersecurity, with budgets ranging between 5% and 20% of the total IT budget, and the average hovering around 12%.

Related Content:

 

Black Hat Europe returns to London Dec 3-6 2018  with hands-on technical Trainings, cutting-edge Briefings, Arsenal open-source tool demonstrations, top-tier security solutions and service providers in the Business Hall. Click for information on the conference and to register.

Jai Vijayan is a seasoned technology reporter with over 20 years of experience in IT trade journalism. He was most recently a Senior Editor at Computerworld, where he covered information security and data privacy issues for the publication. Over the course of his 20-year ... View Full Bio

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
I 'Hacked' My Accounts Using My Mobile Number: Here's What I Learned
Nicole Sette, Director in the Cyber Risk practice of Kroll, a division of Duff & Phelps,  11/19/2019
DevSecOps: The Answer to the Cloud Security Skills Gap
Lamont Orange, Chief Information Security Officer at Netskope,  11/15/2019
Attackers' Costs Increasing as Businesses Focus on Security
Robert Lemos, Contributing Writer,  11/15/2019
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Current Issue
Navigating the Deluge of Security Data
In this Tech Digest, Dark Reading shares the experiences of some top security practitioners as they navigate volumes of security data. We examine some examples of how enterprises can cull this data to find the clues they need.
Flash Poll
Rethinking Enterprise Data Defense
Rethinking Enterprise Data Defense
Frustrated with recurring intrusions and breaches, cybersecurity professionals are questioning some of the industrys conventional wisdom. Heres a look at what theyre thinking about.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2019-13157
PUBLISHED: 2019-11-22
nsGreen.dll in Naver Vaccine 2.1.4 allows remote attackers to overwrite arbitary files via directory traversal sequences in a filename within nsz archive.
CVE-2012-2079
PUBLISHED: 2019-11-22
A cross-site request forgery (CSRF) vulnerability in the Activity module 6.x-1.x for Drupal.
CVE-2019-11325
PUBLISHED: 2019-11-21
An issue was discovered in Symfony before 4.2.12 and 4.3.x before 4.3.8. The VarExport component incorrectly escapes strings, allowing some specially crafted ones to escalate to execution of arbitrary PHP code. This is related to symfony/var-exporter.
CVE-2019-18887
PUBLISHED: 2019-11-21
An issue was discovered in Symfony 2.8.0 through 2.8.50, 3.4.0 through 3.4.34, 4.2.0 through 4.2.11, and 4.3.0 through 4.3.7. The UriSigner was subject to timing attacks. This is related to symfony/http-kernel.
CVE-2019-18888
PUBLISHED: 2019-11-21
An issue was discovered in Symfony 2.8.0 through 2.8.50, 3.4.0 through 3.4.34, 4.2.0 through 4.2.11, and 4.3.0 through 4.3.7. If an application passes unvalidated user input as the file for which MIME type validation should occur, then arbitrary arguments are passed to the underlying file command. T...