A new report has emerged detailing that 70% of financial service firms have been hit by COVID-related cyber attacks in the past twelve months that were more damaging due to the unusual circumstances of the COVID-19 virus.
The numbers come from Keeper Security, who took responses from more than 370 information technology leaders in the UK while compiling a global report into financial service firms being targeted by cyber attacks.
Authors of the report state that 70% of financial service firms were hit by cyber attacks, with the majority of IT leaders saying that COVID-19 working conditions made the attacks more severe.
This was due predominantly to the number of employees working remotely outside of the traditional office environment, which presented hackers with new-found opportunities to launch cyber attacks to compromise organisations.
According to the report, 57% of those surveyed said that both the frequency and severity of these cyber attacks was made worse by the fact their employees are working from home.
On top of this, 41% of respondents said that remote working practices were actually putting their organisation at considerable risk of being targeted with cyber attacks.
More specifically, 48% said that they were worried about the lack of cyber security protections while their employees were operating from home, with 34% adding that they were concerned about their personal devices being infected with malware.
Typically, hackers target employees of an organisation working remotely with a range of nefarious tactics. Phishing campaigns are the most widely utilised by hackers looking to enter an organisation, as well as business email compromise attacks and the more sophisticated tactic of implanting a device with malicious software (malware).
According to a report from InfoSecurity, “this matters in the UK especially as it boasts more privileged access users than any other country: 31% of remote workers have access to critical, sensitive and proprietary information.”
Respondents of the Keeper Security report said that they are apprehensive about the integrity of their data, customer records and the potential of a wide-scale data breach. 50% said they were anxious about the potential of their customer records being accessed by hackers, and 48% saying there is the potential that financial information could be accessed.
This is made worse by dwindling IT budgets for a number of financial service firms, and a lack of cyber security training for their staff, combined with punitive measures for organisations that are hacked.
Under the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation, firms can be fined up to 4% of their annual turnover in the wake of a data breach, if it is determined by investigators that more could have been done to protect customer data.
CEO of Keeper Security, Darren Guccione has said that Brexit has made the equation even more difficult for financial service firms.
“The adjustments to life as we know it due to COVID-19, and the limitations set to be imposed by Brexit, have seen businesses struggle to adopt essential operational requirements to stay afloat,” Guccione said.
“Without rigorous security in place, financial institutions across the UK jeopardize their future. It only takes one cyber attack to destroy the reputation of the entire business,” he added.