Why is the Financial Service Sector Highly Prone to Cyber Threats?


The financial services sector is a prime target for cyberattacks as it deals with vast amounts of money and an immense amount of sensitive data. To better protect itself, it relies on threat intelligence companies

ACID is a leading cybersecurity intelligence platform offering tailored threat detection and real-time alerting. Its AI-enhanced threat monitoring covers a wide number and range of sources. Using client-specific keywords, it detects attacks as early as in their planning stages and alerts to them. Its detailed alerts allow taking effective, targeted action to mitigate the consequences of such attacks or foil them entirely.

What are some of the biggest threats faced by the financial services industry?

Cybercrime is a massive threat, and the financial sector is a major, highly attractive target. Some of the most common types of attacks faced by financial institutions are:

1. Phishing attacks: Phishing is a social engineering attack in which criminals manipulate a user into divulging sensitive information (access credentials, for example) or clicking a malicious link. Financial institutions are often targeted with phishing emails that appear to come from a legitimate, trusted source, such as a bank or credit card company.

2. Malware attacks: Malware is short for malicious software, and refers to any type of code designed to harm or disable computers. Financial institutions are often targeted with malware to steal customer data or disrupt operation.

3. Denial of Service attacks: A denial of service attack is an attempt to make a website or online service unavailable by overwhelming it with traffic from multiple sources. Denial of Service attacks against financial institutions do not typically result in the theft or loss of important information or other assets; however, they can be time-consuming and costly for the victim.

4. SQL Injection attacks: In SQL injection attacks, malicious code is injected into a database to steal or destroy data. Financial institutions are often targeted with SQL injection attacks due to the large amount of customer data stored in their databases.

Phishing in banking

Phishing is online fraud in which cybercriminals steal personal and financial information from victims by impostering a trustworthy entity. Phishing scams typically use email or malicious websites to lure victims into providing sensitive data, such as credit card numbers, login credentials, or social security numbers.

Scammers perpetrating phishing attacks often create a sense of urgency or fear to pressure their victims to act quickly, without giving due thought. For example, an email might claim that your bank account has been compromised and that you must quickly provide your login information to prevent it from being closed. Additionally, phishing websites might falsely identify themselves as a popular online retailer, and state that you must enter your credit card information to verify your account.

Phishing attacks can be difficult to identify because the perpetrators constantly evolve their methods to appear more legitimate. However, there are some common red flags that you can look for, such as misspellings and grammatical errors, unexpected requests for personal or financial information, and unfamiliar sender addresses. If you suspect that you are the target of a phishing scam, do not respond to the message or click any links! Instead, report it to your bank or other financial institution, and then delete it.

Business Email Compromise (BEC)

Business email compromise (BEC) is a type of email fraud that occurs when criminals spoof a legitimate business email account and use it to request sensitive information or wire transfers from employees or customers. Such scams often target businesses with large amounts of money, such as law firms, real estate companies and financial institutions.

BEC scams can be difficult to identify because email messages often appear legitimate. Some red flags that might indicate that such an attack is being waged are unexpected requests for sensitive information or wire transfers, unfamiliar sender addresses and grammatical errors. If you suspect you’ve received a BEC scam email, report it to your company’s IT department and then delete it. Do not respond to it, and do not click any links. 

Ransomware or criminal access to the machine

Ransomware is malware that encrypts a victim’s files and demands a ransom to decrypt them and regain access to information. Ransomware assaults can be costly for companies since they may lose important data, and disrupt, or even shut down operation. The resultant loss of customer trust and harm to reputation can be potentially devastating. Because financial institutions retain so much sensitive information, they are frequent targets of ransomware attacks. 

Credential theft

In credential theft, criminals steal login credentials, such as username and password pairs. Credential theft can be used to gain access to sensitive information or systems, or to commit fraud, for example, for account takeover and business email compromise.

There are several reasons for which the financial service sector is particularly vulnerable to credential theft.

  • Financial institutions typically have large customer bases and store sensitive customer data. This makes them attractive targets for attackers looking to steal information like credit card numbers and social security numbers.

  • Many financial institutions’ security systems do not keep up with the evolving threats, and their vulnerabilities are easy for attackers to exploit.

  • Financial institutions are sometimes slow to identify and respond to security breaches, which gives attackers more time to steal information.

Malware infection

Malware infection is a cybercrime that occurs when a network is infected with malicious software. Cybercriminals can use malware to access sensitive information or systems, or carry out other types of fraud, such as identity theft.

There are a few key reasons why the financial service sector is particularly vulnerable to malware infections: Financial institutions typically deal with large amounts of money and sensitive data, making them an attractive target for criminals. Additionally, those with complex IT systems face a challenge when trying to protect and eliminate vulnerabilities.

Banking Trojans that extract sensitive data

Banking trojans are malicious software used to steal sensitive information, such as login credentials and financial data, from online banking users. These Trojans are typically spread through phishing emails or infected websites, and can be very difficult to detect and remove once they have infected a system. Banking Trojans seriously threaten individuals and businesses, and can cause significant financial losses.

The financial service sector is particularly vulnerable to banking Trojans for several reasons:

  • Many financial institutions rely heavily on online banking and other e-commerce activities to conduct business. This reliance makes these organizations especially attractive targets for cybercriminals looking to steal money or sensitive customer information.

  • The financial services sector is global and highly interconnected, so attacks can have far-reaching impact. A successful cyberattack on a financial institution can cause widespread panic and economic instability.

Point of Sale (POS) malware

Point of Sale (POS) malware is designed to infect point of sale systems and extract sensitive data, such as credit card and debit card information, CVV code, etc. Criminals can spread POS malware through physical means, such as infected USB drives, or through electronic means, such as email attachments or malicious websites.

Financial services are particularly vulnerable to POS malware attacks due to the large number of transactions they execute daily. POS malware can significantly impact financial services, from compromised customer data to financial loss due to fraudulent activity. In some cases, POS malware can even shut down a financial institution’s entire network.


Cryptojacking occurs when criminals use a victim’s computer to mine cryptocurrency. It can be committed by infecting a computer with malware or malicious code on a website. Cryptojacking can significantly impact the victim, leading to increased electricity bills, reduced computer performance, and even data loss.

Cryptojacking can have a significant impact on the financial service sector.

  • It can lead to higher electricity and Internet costs for companies.

  • Cryptojacking can also place sensitive data at risk, as hackers may target systems to mine cryptocurrencies. This could lead to major financial losses for companies and individuals alike.

  • Finally, cryptojacking can also harm the reputation of the financial services sector, as companies that allow their systems to be used to perpetrate such attacks are considered irresponsible.


The financial service sector is highly prone to cyber threats for many reasons. ACID helps businesses in the financial service sector protect themselves through tailored monitoring of numerous sources, and real-time alerting at the first hint of a threat. The detailed information provided by ACID enables the financial institution to implement targeted countermeasures, foil the attack or mitigate its consequences. To learn more about how ACID can help protect your business, visit our website or contact us today.

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