As Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, delivered the closing address at Sibos 2017, the world’s premier Financial Services event held in Toronto, it became clear that digital innovation in the Financial Services industry will be a key topic on boardroom agendas in 2018. The discussions at Sibos 2017 focused more than ever on the need for cyber security, following several headlines on data breaches in the past months. From Equifax to Deloitte, the trail of disaster has left companies in turmoil, especially the Financial Services sector. DNS-based attacks have played a large role in the recent cyber failures and the consequences are not limited to data exfiltration.
EfficientIP’s research shows the Financial Services sector is a frequent target of DNS attacks and their methods to mitigate them are outdated. It also shows these attacks are very damaging for a sector that is an obvious target, and where security of information should be a business-critical process given the immense value of the data. The repercussions extend to brand damage and high costs. The research shows that DNS security is not given the attention it should warrant.
Banking on DNS security
The Financial Services industry is attacked more often than most sectors, 39 percent of Financial Services organizations were subjected to five or more DNS attacks in the past twelve months, higher than the 32 percent average across the industries surveyed. Despite the frequency of the attacks, Financial Services organizations are investing only in basic security technologies such as firewalls (62 percent of organizations have admitted having a basic firewall in place) which will not adequately protect them against the newest methods used by hackers in the case of DNS-based attacks.
Given 91 percent of malware are using DNS, it is disappointing that more than half (52 percent) of the Financial Services organizations surveyed were unaware of DNS-based malware. It is worth noting infamous ransomware such as WannaCry or Petya are using DNS as part of their attack, and yet companies still ignore DNS is a problem, even after hundreds of headlines mentioned those now infamous threats.
The cost of poor response
The average cost of one single attack in the Financial Services industry is $588,000, the second highest of all the sectors surveyed, a sum exceeded only by the Telecom industry ($622,000).
Even more alarming than the frequency and the cost of each attack is the fact that only three percent of Financial Services companies applied the necessary security patches to answer the 11 critical vulnerabilities released by BIND in 2016. Ignoring the basics means there is an open bar for hackers over the next nine months, allowing them to cash in on the unpatched announced vulnerabilities and help themselves to sensitive personal data, account numbers, and access to hard-earned life savings. In the case of Equifax, the unpatched vulnerability allowed the social security numbers of 145 million people to be compromised.
For the Financial Services industry, 17 percent of companies had sensitive customer information stolen and one in five organizations were victims of intellectual property theft (20 percent). Companies still not hearing this wake-up call need to know that keeping their “data vault” open will have significant financial and brand impact. The requirement for better security is made even more pressing with GDPR just around the corner, as EU regulators will fine companies that have not taken the necessary steps to ensure the data of their customers is sufficiently protected.
The way ahead for banks
The Financial Services sector has poor awareness and response towards DNS-based vulnerabilities, which is reflected by the number of successful breaches. These breaches, whether they are caused by forgetting the basics such as patching or by DNS-based malware or DNS tunneling, are extremely damaging.
If organizations are serious about their digital transformation plans as discussed at Sibos, now is the time to take a look at their DNS security. Here are three basic steps for the Financial Services industry to address the new attack methods used by hackers:
- Simplify your DNS architecture and add high-performance capability to increase resiliency, lower TCO and protect against volumetric attacks
- Eliminate single point of failure by deploying hybrid architectures combining different DNS engines to mitigate zero-day attacks by switching in real-time from one DNS engine to another
- Enhance your threat visibility by using real DNS transaction inspection to detect stealth attacks, prevent data theft and ensure GDPR compliance
To make 2018 a more successful year, it is imperative Financial Services organizations prepare better against the increasing frequency and complexity of cyber attacks and data breaches. As GDPR implementation gets closer, data confidentiality will become an urgent concern. Innovative solutions are already available to protect your network and ensure sensitive customer information is secure. However, the first step is for the Financial Services industry to realize DNS security is an issue that can no longer be ignored.
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