ThreatMetrix: Financial institutions on high alert for major cyber attack

A major financial institution is likely to be hit by significant cyber criminal activity in 2016, according to the latest ThreatMetrix Cybercrime Report.

Analysis of more than 15 billion transactions in the past 12 months by the ThreatMetrix Digital Identity Network revealed a 40% increase in cyber criminal activity targeting the financial sector.

A record 21 million fraud attacks and 45 million bot attacks were detected in the last three months of 2015 alone.

The data also shows that the financial sector is facing the highest number of organised attacks and multi-channel threats.

The biggest emerging threat for financial institutions is bot attacks, which increased 10 times in the last three months of 2015 compared with the previous quarter.

[poll id=”2″][poll id=”3″]


A worst-case attack scenario could see a major bank or financial institution completely paralysed for days, leading to millions – if not billions – of pounds of lost business, according to ThreatMetrix analysts.

“A trend in our latest report shows bot attacks as the biggest attack vector to financial businesses globally,” said Vanita Pandey, senior director of strategy and product marketing at ThreatMetrix.

“Bots and other sophisticated attacks, such as malware, have determined strategies to mimic the behaviour of authentic customers to bypass traditional security defences. This has serious implications for businesses across industries and geographies, as bots are difficult to detect and can cost billions in losses,” she said.

Online lending top target for hackers
In addition to bot attacks, other trends in the financial services industry include increased mobile usage and attacks targeting both online lending and alternative payments.

Online lending is seen as an easier way for the unbanked and under-banked to gain access to loans in a matter of days, and its increasing popularity is making it a top target for cyber criminals.

“While convenient for consumers and profitable for financial institutions, online lending presents a risk for new account creation fraud, as cyber criminals stand to profit from fraudulent loans and other financing,” said Stephen Topliss, vice-president of products at ThreatMetrix.

“Online lending is a hotbed for fraud because it is a less secure channel and an attractive target for attackers. They are also working with much faster transaction cycles than traditional lenders,” he said, adding that mobile also opens the door for the unbanked and under-banked to easily and conveniently gain access to loans from online institutions and small lenders.