Banks Facing Escalating Security Threats during COVID-19 Pandemic

New report finds cyberattacks against financial institutions rose 238% from February to April

In mid-April, FBI and Secret Service officials issued a stark assessment about an expected increase in cyber crimes in banking, stating that “the pandemic provides criminal opportunities on a scale likely to dwarf anything seen before.” A new report from cloud security firm VMware Black Carbon is now raising similar alarm bells.

With a sobering warning, Jonah Force Hill, senior cyber policy advisor and executive director of the U.S. Secret Service Cyber Investigations Advisory Board (CIAB), says that “no sector was more regularly targeted than the financial sector,” highlighting organized crime syndicates expansive cybercrime tools against financial institutions.

The report Modern Bank Heists 3.0 finds that cyberattacks against financial institutions mushroomed 238% in just two months from February to April this year, including a nine-fold increase in the number of ransomware attacks.

As part of its research, VMware Black Carbon surveyed 25 top bank security officials and found: 80% reported an increase in cyberattacks; 64% reported increased attempts at wire fraud, and 20% reported watering-hole attacks where bank websites are hijacked and used to infiltrate visitors’ browsers.

According to the report, cyberthreats stem from a recognition of the trust consumers have in their banks and underscore the need to protect their customer’s assets and safeguard trust. As the report concludes, “Cybersecurity is now a brand protection imperative.”