5 Ways Banks Can Protect Themselves Against Internal Cyber Attacks

Cybersecurity remains to be one of a bank’s most significant concerns, most especially because of the interconnectivity of financial institutions. And while most common threats come from outside groups, internal cyber security flaws are just as important – and often underlooked.

So how can banks protect themselves against internal cyber attacks? First is to make sure that your internal IT systems are robust and ready to defend against any potential threats and second, involve your employees with your IT policies. By combining these two strategies, you can create a system that monitors its own behavior to address potential threats.

Methods To Keep Your Bank Safe From Internal Cyber Threats

While this isn’t an exhaustive list, it does cover the basics of what a bank needs to watch out for in terms of cyber attacks, as well as suggestions on how to implement them in a concrete and impactful way.

  1. Keep Track Of Lesser-Known Threats Like Shadow IT

Shadow IT refers to IT systems used by a company that have not been approved by their internal IT department. It usually happens because of the shortcomings of a  centralized IT system in getting work done. These breaches may originate from employees taking home company devices or accessing sensitive data outside office connections> Their potential as an illegal entry point makes them so dangerous.

There are several ways you can solve the issue of shadow IT:

  • By locking your data so that only users with a secure connection can access it
  • Tracking all company devices by their place and time of use
  • Monitoring all cloud services regularly used by your employees for illegal access
  • Building a policy with the use of devices and connections in the office
  • Provide employees with the resources they need to prevent shadow IT

In most cases, shadow IT isn’t a deliberate attempt by your employees to sabotage your bank. They are simply trying to find a way to do their work better. But because many people aren’t even aware that they may be engaging in shadow IT, being proactive about its possibilities and mitigating the risks is the best way for your bank to avoid issues from it.

  1. Upgrade Your IT Systems Regularly

Even if IT systems mostly exist on the cloud, there’s still a need to upgrade your hardware and software regularly. Doing this not only prevents your entire IT infrastructure from becoming obsolete, but it also discourages any potential attackers who may be exploiting old backdoors into IT systems to break in.

In these cases, it’s best to hire or outsource your IT system maintenance to groups or people that have proven themselves to be experts in the field. While justifying the expenditure for an in-house IT security department can be easy, you should always make sure that you’re getting the most value out of your investment by hiring someone qualified.

In other cases, the problem with your IT systems may lie in your hardware itself. Servers can only last so long before they need to be replaced and even the computers used by your bank can become obsolete in time. Balancing the need for upgrades vs. the constraints of your operating costs is important, but any investment into improving your IT security will always be a good investment long-term.

  1. Use Next-Generation Protection Strategies

Hackers and cyberattackers are constantly upgrading their systems for better breaching capabilities. They can even impersonate your internal communications, which your clueless employees are more likely to reply with sensitive information or access credentials.

Next generation endpoint security can minimize these kinds of threats by deploying advanced security solutions that older protection systems don’t have. These include :

  • Artificial intelligence systems
  • Machine-learning protocols
  • Comprehensive network and device security
  • Infrastructure isolation for in-progress attacks
  • Passive optical LAN

These systems have two benefits: they provide more protection to your IT structure compared to traditional methods and they’re easy to integrate. By using these systems, you ensure that your data is protected even in the cases of accidental breach or human error by your own employees.

  1. Keep Tabs On Authorized And High-Level Users

All banks have several high-level and privileged users embedded in their IT infrastructure. Aside from keeping the IT systems running smoothly, they also have access to sensitive information and carry all the credentials needed to access and change the infrastructure as needed.

For this reason, monitoring these individuals should be top priority for the management structure of any bank. While it’s unreasonable to suspect them of espionage or bad intentions right off the bat, a policy should be set up in which their authentication and access is strictly vetted by higher management.

By doing this, you can keep a better track on the possible threat vectors from within your organization and have a list of individuals to investigate if and when a breach occurs. Once you figure out the key individuals that work within your IT structure, it becomes possible to personalize their protection and capability to access your network.

Keep in mind that this shouldn’t be limited to high-ranking employees. Even rank-and-file staff should be given a security profile that can be cross-referenced and checked in the event of an internal cyber attack. However, you should be careful that these security protocols do not get in the way of how they do their work.

  1. Involve Employees In Cybersecurity Strategy

Finally, one of the most effective ways that you can reduce the risk of internal cyberattacks is by working directly with your employees on your cybersecurity strategy. While advanced system protections and the latest hardware can provide reasonable security against internal and external threats, reducing the likelihood of human error is always a worthwhile investment.

Because of the nature of their business, banks involving employees in security strategies isn’t uncommon. However, very few have the policy and or a strategy in place with cloud-based computing or online connections. This can be an issue since an employee working under a substandard IT protection strategy is more likely to cause a security breach.

One thing you should remember is that you should not treat your employees as the enemy. While it’s true that the majority of internal cyberattacks can be carried out or caused by people working in your own organization, your employees should be seen as allies, not potential threats. Overtly monitoring their activities or putting restrictive policies in place is likely to cause loss of morale and reduced productivity.

Instead, educate your employees about the potential security risks they may face and more importantly, the strategies that your bank has deployed to protect them and your clients. Involving your employees in your IT security strategy is an effective method to ensure their compliance. In the best-case scenario, this can even encourage them to be proactive in dealing with these possibilities.

With enough time, proper tools, and employee engagement, the risk that your bank faces from internal cyberattacks will become very low. IT security is a continually improving process, so always be alert and open for possible new threats and the different ways you can protect your institution from them.

Protect Your Financial Institution Today With Abacus Managed IT Services

Banks are the prime target of cyberattacks from outside organizations and groups, but sometimes the most likely vulnerability can be found inside their own IT structures. By addressing potential gaps in security and closing them before they can be exploited, banks and other financial institutions can protect the assets and information of their clients better.

Abacus Managed IT Services has extensive experience in improving and maintaining the IT security of financial institutions and is a proud partner of many banks to safeguard their internal systems. Contact us today for more information about our services. 

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The Abacus Blog Team
At Abacus IT, our blog is authored by a team of IT experts with a wealth of experience in various facets of technology. Our primary blog author is a seasoned IT professional with over 20 years of experience in the industry. With a deep understanding of cybersecurity, cloud solutions, network infrastructure, and IT management, our author provides valuable insights and actionable tips to help you optimize your IT operations.

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