Cybersecurity Risk
Editorial Credit: BeeBright
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Learning from the mistakes of the past is wisdom. But becoming the victim of the same mistake is foolish. We can take some major and repeated incidents from 2020 and 2021 and reflect.

If we look back from 2020, not much has changed about attacks, the methods, and the platforms used for attacks.

Cyber attackers and hackers may have gained sophistication in their craft. The same goes for security services.

Let’s recap all the methods and targets in cyber security last year.

Looking Back at the 2021 Cybersecurity Attacks

2021 was when the world started facing the repercussions of Covid-19 and joblessness. Layoffs contributed a lot to the cyber-attacks. Some of these attacks are aimed at data, while most towards the financial industry.

When analyzed, the continued and frequent attacks teach us a thing or two. They also point out the cracks in cybersecurity to work on in 2022.

Ransomware Attacks

When you read the word, you see the familiarity with the malware. But what makes it a little different from malware is the ransom. The network or system is hijacked and locked for ransom.

cybersecurity risk crixeo
Editorial Credit: Leo Wolfert

To curtail the losses, the victim pays the ransom asked by the hacker. Then they get the system’s functions or data back from the hacker.

Even then, there are no guarantees whether the hacker is going to return the data or operations of software. Many cases have reported data leaks and the 2nd installment of ransom after demands were met.

Here is a quick view of some of the biggest ransomware attacks in 2021:

  • Kia Motors: 20 million USD paid in bitcoin. As a result, the company lost its telecommunication and IT network for weeks.
  • Acer: 50 million USD to pay in bitcoin. Moreover, they leaked some sensitive information on the world wide web.
  • CNA Financial Corp paid 40 million USD to regain their IT network from the hackers.    

International Manhunt Begins For Cryptocurrency Scam Syndicate

Web API

Website Application Programming Interface is a tool for building applications, websites, and software.

The developers and programmers are fond of this tool for its accessibility. Hence there has been a surge in the use of API by 140% by the end of 2019. So, the attacks on API-based websites and applications doubled by 350%. 

The fact that API remains exposed by application servers is due to the web attack vectors. Akamai indicates local file inclusion, SQL injection, and cross-site scripting are vectors.

In a report, Akamai highlights attacks steered towards API:

  • In June 2021, they reported an estimated 113.8 million attacks on API.
  • An estimated 6.2 billion attacks were reported on SQL injection.
  • 3.3 billion attacks recorded on Local File Inclusion (LFI)
  • Roughly 1.01 billion speared towards Cross-Site Scripting (XSS)
  • Approximately 180-190 attacks attempted towards DDoS throughout the first quarter of 2021   

Thus, we can expect API attacks to become more frequent in terms of occurrences in 2022.

Cyber Security Risks on Financial Industry

There are various pillars in the financial industry. But we will discuss three crucial elements; banks, exchanges, and organizations. 

Organization Adapting Work From Home (WFH)

Since 2020, most firms have adopted the work-from-home dynamic. As a result, there is an expected 74% reduction in office spaces with Fortune 500 companies.

With variants one after another, the companies feel they need to shrink the office space. CEO of JP Morgan Chase’s Jamie Dimon also implied to cut the expense of real estate by reducing the office sizes.

Facebook, Google, and Square are also following the lead. But these measures are leaving cracks in the system for security breaches. How?

Employees access office networks from PCs and personal laptops. At the same time, they also use their personal devices for online gaming, using VPN for streaming. 

This means any vulnerability in the company’s network security may result in malware or ransomware attacks. This calls for more robust measures, such as:  

  • Optimizing security protocols
  • Deploying cyber security solutions like proxies 
  • Installing firewalls and anti-virus software   
  • Using AI-based intrusion detection systems
  • Training and educating employees  

All the above have proven effective. However, the use of residential proxies is more popular among different business sectors. Financial institutions can use residential proxies for: 

  • Market analysis
  • Price monitoring
  • Data collection and web scraping
  • Software testing
  • Online promotions, and more.

In this regard, residential proxies from Blazing SEO can help you perform the above tasks safely and efficiently. By doing so, you are increasing your online privacy and cybersecurity while doing necessary market research.

Residential proxy is an excellent choice for businesses seeking expansion opportunities in different local markets, targeting local audiences, and providing tailored solutions to customers. Besides safety, companies find it more cost-effective than other methods.     

Working from home
Editorial Credit: MTR

Banking Sector

Cybercriminals and hackers have become interested in banks and financial institutions. The ransoms and payouts are better, hence the frequent attacks.

Phishing has proven a very effective tool for breaking into financial organizations. Phishing is a classy art of sending email and correspondence to the subject.

These emails are always impersonating as legitimate and work-related. On clicking the email, the receiver invites a virus on the bank’s network.

Banks have laid huge emphasis on educating the employees to identify the threat. During Covid-19, a famous virus was circulated in email. The email impersonates a vaccine update from legitimate healthcare institutions.      

Here is a quick sweep of bank-related cybersecurity attacks in the year 2021:

  • The financial sector noticed a 1318% increase in 2021
  • Various Forex agencies across Japan and China incurred huge losses
  • Many banks reported the attacks for clients’ data and social security numbers.

CryptoCurrency

Cryptocurrency earns nods from tech giants like Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk. As a result, people are more inclined towards it. There are two kinds of wallets to manage cryptocurrency: hardware and software wallets.

The hardware wallet is better in security and is offline. When you need to use it, you only need to plug it into the computer for transactions. But, software wallets are always online, easy to use, and stored on the web and cloud.

cryptocurrency atm
Editorial Credit: Syda Productions

For starters, hardware wallets are expensive. In case you forget your id and password, all the contents of the wallets are gone. Besides going through cumbersome applications and protocols, hardware wallets are hard to manage.

Meanwhile, web wallets and mobile wallets are stress-free to manage. Unfortunately, both wallets have the potential to get hacked.    

Here are some cyberattacks reported on the financial industry via cryptocurrency in 2021:

  • Poly-Network incurred losses of 600 million USD.
  • Cream Finance had two attacks and lost 130 million USD in cryptocurrency
  • A renowned exchange in Japan, Liquid incurred 97 million USD in cryptocurrency.

These are only a fraction of losses that occurred in the financial industry. Besides, various medium and small financial institutions sustained losses, and some folded.  

Deduction

Now we see that phishing, ransomware, and API are the biggest contributors to attacks. For financial gains and data, attacks targeted banks, cryptocurrency exchanges, and large organizations.

Looking back at the attacks, companies and financial institutions can deploy methods. They can also overcome gaps in security lapses and breaches.

Knowing what areas to work on directs the focus towards problem-solving. It is the right time to hire security services and deploy robust security procedures. 

Also, deploy rigid protocols for work from home. These measures can help financial companies and firms curtail cybersecurity threats in 2022.