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Cybersecurity in Banking: How banks can deal with cyber risks

Digitalization is booming in all industries, including the Indian Banking Sector. From the implementation of the latest technologies to creating a presence on digital channels, the primary objective has always been to increase footprints and revenues. With everyone going cashless and using digital money and wallets, activities are done through online checkout pages and physical credit scanners. In both situations, a customer is redirected to other locations and their banking credentials can get compromised for malicious activities. It becomes very important for the financial sector to take all the necessary measures of cybersecurity to protect customers’ data and their privacy.

Although banks are taking measures to improve security practice, the traditional approach to IT security may still be insufficient to tackle the latest cyber risks. The hackers are getting more advanced with the latest cyber hacks up their sleeves, like the proliferation of attack vectors, the complexity of threat actors, and enhanced targeting of banks.

The foundation of banking lies in fostering trust and credibility. With hackers posting banking credentials on the dark web daily,  financial service providers need to step up their game in cybersecurity.

How can banks deal with cyber risks?

Foremost, banks need to combat the growing threat of malware and social engineering attacks. They are gearing up with tougher cybersecurity practices compared to any other industry, as they deal with the most sensitive information of their customers. Realizing the information at stake, the RBI had even issued the ‘comprehensive cybersecurity framework’ for cooperative banks, proposing norms classified into four levels based on their digital intensity and interconnectedness to the payment systems landscape. Considering the number of recent high-level security breaches that have occurred at India’s biggest banks, such norms provided much-needed sanitation.

There are two kinds of financial services firms – ones that have faced a cyberattack, and those that are prone to face one soon. Both are required to improve their cyber resilience. Running cyber invasion mock drills can help improve the resilience among bank employees. For instance, phishing emails with unbelievable deals can be forwarded to all the employees multiple numbers of times with different templates. Based on the response of employees to the phishing emails, customized learning can be shared with them, which can educate them on ways to identify phishing emails, appropriate response strategies, and policies on how to report such incidents. Such mock drills can help in curbing the damage and speedy recovery.

So far, cybersecurity strategies have focused on reacting hastily to problems only after they occur. Banks now need to make their strategies to cybersecurity more defensive than reactive. Although preventative measures like firewalls, antiviral and anti-malware applications are already in use, defences can be improved by implementing intelligence-driven measures like artificial intelligence (AI), which is already applied in strengthening authentication methods. The use of fingerprints to verify payments from digital wallets is a prime example of this approach.

Another precautionary approach is the unification of AI and Machine Learning (ML) to identify and prevent potential threats in real-time. This technique can detect and track a significantly higher number of malicious sources and respond much faster than human intervention. Banks can use this technique for vulnerability management as well. The technologies proactively look for possible risks in an organisation’s systems and repeal them before hackers can get through them.

Cybersecurity has become more of a holistic operational issue than an IT for any firm. This makes it crucial for the firms to introduce basic hygiene measures for all those involved in banking processes, including the consumers and employees. In this age of digital innovation, cyberattacks will continue to be more striking and more complicated, challenging financial institutions to respond in kind. They will have to treat cyber protection as a business risk issue and frequently upgrade their capabilities to remain secure, vigilant, and resilient. Keeping the data secure should be a priority for everyone in the firm and not something that has to be fixed by the technology experts.


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