Cybersecurity Safety

What exactly is cybersecurity? Cybersecurity, also known as information technology security, is the practice of protecting electronic systems, data, applications, and networks from the interference of the services they provide.

The purpose is to protect sensitive information and organizational assets from possible threats from unauthorized users to guard against reputational risk and monetary losses. To protect both, it is imperative that banks understand the importance of cybersecurity and stay vigilant to avoid common hacking tactics.

Cybercrimes have always been a chief concern for financial institutions with new threats arising daily. But this looming threat became even more concerning with the rise in online interactions, and massive amounts of data flowing over the web throughout the pandemic—creating more opportunities for “bad actors” to exploit for financial gain.

As consumers and employees adjusted to a remote environment, security became a greater challenge for IT teams to secure internal networks. And as we are still spending most of our time on our computers and devices, this opens even more doors and avenues for malicious fraud schemes and strategies. Prevalent schemes involving social engineering (via phishing and vishing), and human resources, network vulnerabilities, and hacks linked to wireless access, continue to run rampant.

Social engineering tactics are among the most recognizable, and leading targets during the pandemic. More specifically, phishing attacks, have been the most common method used to penetrate systems. There were more than $1.8 billion in losses from Business Email Compromise last year and more than 240,000 reported phishing-related scams, according to the FBI.

Phishing is a tactic in which bad actors attempt to procure sensitive information from recipients by sending out mass emails posing as a trusted source. These suspicious emails are designed to instill a sense of urgency, prompting users to install malware using an email link or attachment or otherwise disclose their users’ login credentials. According to Forbes, the banking industry has replaced retail in the No. 3 spot regarding phishing scams.

As we move towards a digital economy, it is imperative that community banks incorporate cybersecurity practices and protections as a procedure in their daily operations. Persistent oversight is one of the largest components of managing security against cyber threats.

What does this mean for community banks? As you apply new technologies, it is critical that you develop protection measures against digital attacks to shield your clients, your computer systems, and your networks.

There are several protective defenses that can be employed to avoid attacks, including educating staff and consumers on how to spot bad actors—what a legitimate email looks like versus a phishing scam, for instance. Also, conduct security control audits to minimize risks to your networks and develop cybersecurity policies to further limit the chances of incurring reputational damage, or related liabilities and costs associated with a cyber breach.

Data is one of our most beneficial resources and traditional procedures are no longer adequate to ensure its integrity and safety. Remember to address potential risks, invoke recommended software updates within your institution, and be cautious of common attack techniques.

Implementing online training assessments and protection assessments can make a significant impact. Learning how to identify and respond to cyber threats will also assist your security team with protecting your network. Cybercrime is a rapidly growing industry, and cybersecurity is essential as we continue to move through the pandemic and beyond.

Danielle Washington is a fraud claims coordinator at ICBA Bancard.