The Russian invasion of Ukraine last February, combined with other factors, has resulted in a surge in the number of DDoS attacks on institutions such as banks and other financial firms. Wealth managers need to be on the alert.
The number of distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks on financial services firms rose 22 per cent last year on a year before, while in Europe, the rise was particularly severe, up 73 per cent as the Russia-Ukraine war raged, figures showed.
The report entitled The Evolution of DDoS: Return of the Hacktivists has been produced by FS-ISAC, the US-based not-for-profit organisation that advances cybersecurity and resilience in the global financial system, and Akamai Technologies, a Nasdaq-listed cloud company.
DDoS attacks have been waged by organisations such as Killnet, which has targeted the US and nations throughout Europe.
Such threats can be a cover for other, potentially more damaging cyber activities – for example, infiltrating systems, exfiltrating data and installing malware. This means that when cybersecurity teams encounter DDoS, they must also be on the alert for other types of attacks, putting extra strain on already limited resources, the report’s authors said.
Firms must update their risk profiles and mitigation measures accordingly. Far from being a low-level annoyance, DDoS should increasingly be considered a key cyber defence challenge. The report discusses several mitigation strategies, including network best practices, cyber hygiene and resilience.
The financial services sector, including wealth managers, private banks, trust firms and family offices, are often targeted precisely because they are seen as holding large troves of wealth. This news service has noted the paradox that among some of the richest organisations in the world, such as single-family offices, their defences against hackers and other digital threats can be relatively weak, or even non-existent. In June last year, a report by EY (aka Ernst & Young) found that among single-family offices, cybersecurity protection and processes weren’t often up to scratch.
The Akamai/FS-ISAC report said that as more services are moved to the cloud or contracted in an aaS (as-a-Service) model, those services will depend on other supply chain components. Service disruptions anywhere in the supply chain can have a serious impact on an organsation's operation, it noted.
"The continued evolution of DDoS shows that it is far from a solved problem," Teresa Walsh, global head of intelligence at FS-ISAC, said.
"Though DDoS attacks have been around for some time, we are seeing that they are evolving in new, innovative and aggressive ways," Steve Winterfeld, advisory CISO at Akamai, said. "We teamed up with FS-ISAC to produce The Evolution of DDoS: Return of the Hacktivists in an effort to better educate the financial community about the threats of DDoS and to offer some threat trends and best practices for the sector to better combat these attacks."
See this interview here of an expert on the cybersecurity sector and financial services.