CIO Speak

The financial services industry is an appealing target for cyber criminals

The financial services industry is an appealing target for cyber criminals today. Arguably, consumers financial, banking, trading and superannuation information is some of the most important data held by organisations today. The stakes are incredibly high for the financial services industry to properly protect and secure this data. Failure on this front will result in incredible damage to the company’s reputation and huge financial costs. While ransomware is incredibly complex and a huge responsibility for organisations, there are steps that can be taken to mitigate risk from the get-go.

Understanding the threat

The main points of entry into any business for ransomware is through Remote Desktop Protocol or other remote access mechanisms, phishing emails and software vulnerabilities. The reality is that Internet-connected RDP needs to stop. IT administrators can get creative on special IP addresses, redirecting RDP ports, complex passwords and more; but the data doesn’t lie that over half of ransomware comes in via RDP. This tells us that exposing RDP servers to the Internet does not align with a forward-thinking ransomware resiliency strategy.

The other frequent mode of entry is via phish mail. The third area that comes into play is the risk of exploiting vulnerabilities. Keeping systems up to date is an age-old IT responsibility that is more important than ever.

Back up data

With so much at stake, organisations in the financial services industry must also prepare for the worst-case scenario and prepare an ultra-resilient backup storage. The 3-2-1 rule is a good starting point for a general data management strategy. The 3-2-1 rule recommends that there should be at least three copies of important data, on at least two different types of media, with at least one of these copies being off-site. The best part is that this rule does not demand any particular type of hardware and is versatile enough to address nearly any failure scenario.

Do not pay the ransom

In spite of these techniques, businesses must still be prepared to remediate a threat if introduced. Our approach is simple. Do not pay the ransom. The only option is to restore data. Additionally, organisations need to plan their response when a threat is discovered.

In disasters of any type, communication becomes one of the first challenges to overcome. Have a plan for how to communicate to the right individuals out-of-band. This would include group text lists, phone numbers or other mechanisms that are commonly used to align communications across an extended team. In this contact book you also need security, incident response and identity management experts, internal or external.   

While ransomware is becoming an inerasably dominant threat across the financial services’ industry, there are definitely steps that can be taken to mitigate risk and prepare for the worst-case scenario. For all businesses today, having a full proof back up plan in place is incredibly important in ensuring the business survives and thrives through any potential cybercrimes.

By Rick Vanover, Senior Director of Product Strategy, Veeam.

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