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How financial services are overhauling security to defend against spoofing scams



By Fabien Rech, SVP EMEA at Trellix


The data-rich financial services sector is highly lucrative for fraudsters, to such an extent that it is a top target for malicious emails and other cyberattacks. Spoofing is a particularly common attack technique used against the sector – whereby malicious actors coax targets to open and respond to fraudulent emails or calls from a seemingly trusted, legitimate source.

These fraudulent impersonations are increasingly being used to target financial institutions. Even with robust security measures in place, banks can often be the victims of spoofing attempts, as fraudsters look to access systems and obtain personal information.

With the threat landscape constantly evolving and new attack techniques emerging, it is now all the more challenging for banks and other financial services to adapt to new threats. Despite these challenges, financial institutions are taking proactive steps to minimise the risk of cyberattacks by not only defending against fraudulent impersonations, but by bolstering their security measures.

A prime target for spoofing

Rich in sensitive, personal information, there is no doubt that financial services are a data goldmine for cybercriminals. In fact, recent research from Trellix found that financial services was the sector most impacted by malicious emails in Q3 2022. While phishing remained the most common type of malicious email – accounting for around two-thirds (68%) of attacks – spoofing is a significant cause for concern. 

As the origin point for most cyberattacks, email continues to be the top attack vector and main entry point for malicious actors because it can be highly targeted and customised, and so email security remains a top priority. Financial service organisations are therefore continually looking for methods to effectively bolster their defences against email-borne threats to defend their systems – and their customers – against attack.

Strengthening defences on the front line

To detect potential spoofing scams and mitigate attacks, it is crucial for financial services to have an effective email defence system in place. While organisations can draw on existing tools and resources to help defend against fraudulent impersonations – such as embedded security and antispam filters in email services to detect potential scams – these defence techniques can be simplistic and may fail to respond fast enough to attacks. 

In addition, with traditional tools focused on detecting malware, cybercriminals are now adapting and implementing dynamic malwareless techniques, such as that used in spoofing scams. This can result in security gaps that can leave financial organisations open to risks that malicious actors may be ready to exploit. From security breaches and access to customer data, to the potential complete shutdown of business operations, the implications of a successful spoofing attack are significant.

To combat this, security teams within this sector are now deploying real-time detection and prevention capabilities to up-level their security measures.

Adapting to new threats

With cyberattacks increasingly becoming more sophisticated, financial institutions recognise that it’s no longer enough to simply put up a shield to defend against incoming attacks. Malicious actors are creative and will always be looking for new routes into this data-rich sector. To keep the business infrastructure safe and build a confident, resilient organisation, financial institutions are now looking to implement a new approach. These organisations need to be one step ahead of fraudsters to mitigate ever-evolving threats by implementing a security model that can flex to their needs, turning the once static shield into an adaptable one. 

Extended detection and response (XDR) can provide businesses with a holistic ecosystem that consolidates all security products into an interconnected, constantly communicating platform that can continually adapt to the threat landscape. This will not only enable the sector to withstand attacks, but will also build resilience against new and emerging threats in the future

Enhancing security measures provide value

Although financial organisations are renowned for having strong and sophisticated security postures, cybercriminals will continue to test their defences in innovate ways. To remain one step ahead, they must stay abreast of the latest techniques – such as fraudulent impersonations – to shore up their security measures. Taking this proactive approach to cybersecurity will not only enable the finance sector to adapt quickly to new threats but will accelerate detection and correction through the entire defence lifecycle.


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