The Biggest Cybersecurity Threats for Financial Services

January 26, 2023

Banks, credit unions, investment firms, and other financial institutions handle enormous amounts of sensitive data on a daily basis, making them a prime target for cybercriminals who seek to profit from that information via fraud, extortion, or outright theft. In fact, according to a report by the Boston Consulting Group, financial service providers face cyberattacks at a rate 300 times greater than other industries.

These threats can come in many forms, ranging from relatively simple brute-force attacks to highly sophisticated social engineering schemes. Regardless of their scale or complexity though, all are capable of causing massive turmoil in the form of financial loss, interruption of operations, and reputational damage. 

In order to mitigate the risks and impacts of these attacks and implement an effective cyber security plan, businesses must first understand the risks in play. To help, we’ve compiled a guide to the largest threats to cyber security for financial services today.


Ransomware is a type of malicious software that encrypts its victim’s files, at which point the attacker demands some form of ransom payment in exchange for a decryption key that will restore access to the files. 

Financial institutions are common targets for this type of attack, as the information they handle is valuable. In most cases, attackers will threaten to publicly expose or sell customer passwords and banking details if their demands are not met, resulting in many of these ransoms being paid to avoid reputational damage, even though ransom costs are often higher than the cost of data remediation.

Ransomware remains one of the most common and destructive threats to cyber security for financial services, with over 236 million worldwide attacks occurring in the first half of 2022 alone.

DDoS attacks

Along with tech and telecommunications, the finance industry has remained one of the top targets for distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks in recent years, a form of cyber attack in which the perpetrator seeks to make a website or online service unusable by overwhelming it with traffic, typically through the use of a network of compromised devices known as a botnet. These attacks are enormously disruptive, causing significant downtime that can cost businesses and organizations upwards of $9,000 per minute.

In addition to volumetric DDoS attacks that simply flood the target with traffic, there are protocol attacks, which exploit vulnerabilities in the communication protocols used by the target, and application attacks, which target specific applications or services. 

Making matters worse is that these are often only one prong of a broader and more sophisticated attack, such as in a multi-vector DDoS attack that seeks to overwhelm financial cyber security teams so that other vulnerabilities can be exploited during the chaos.

Social engineering

As financial cyber security tools have become more advanced and capable, clever criminals have realized that the weakest link for these firms is often their own employees and customers. Rather than hacking or using malware, social engineering attacks rely on tricking people into turning over sensitive data or credentials that can be used to penetrate security measures.

Phishing is the most common form of this kind of attack, in which an attacker poses as an official entity, such as a banking associate or government agent, and requests sensitive information such as login information, passwords, or PINs. 

While many of these attacks are easy to spot, some are quite sophisticated, using spoofed emails and phone numbers or fake websites to appear to be more legitimate, and they may use urgent language or the threat of fines, fees, or account closures to prompt fast action and trick the victim into overlooking otherwise suspicious details. 

Other forms of phishing include spear-phishing and whaling, which target specific personnel and executives, respectively, using similar tactics to standard phishing attacks, but often go to more effort to collect personal information or build trust with the victim in order to bolster the chances of success.

Trust OwnBackup to mitigate threats to your SaaS data

If you are interested in strengthening your cyber security posture in Salesforce, look no further than OwnBackup Secure. Our comprehensive tool allows you to reduce the risk of data breaches and other malicious attacks, protect your highly sensitive data, and proactively monitor and respond to any emerging threats. 

If you want to know where your current cyber security posture stands and how we can help, request a free Guided Risk Assessment for Salesforce today, or schedule a demo below.

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