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Cyber Security Risks in the financial services sector

The financial services sector, encompassing banks, insurance companies, and investment firms, plays a vital role in the global economy.

As financial institutions increasingly rely on digital technologies and data-driven services, they face unique cyber security challenges.

This page highlights key cyber security risks that the financial services sector must address to protect their valuable assets, ensure operational continuity, and maintain public trust.

Fraud and Financial Theft

Cybercriminals often target financial institutions to steal funds or commit fraud, such as unauthorized transactions, account takeovers, or credit card fraud. These attacks can result in substantial financial loss for both the institutions and their customers, as well as damage the institution’s reputation and customer trust.

Data Breaches and Privacy Violations

Financial institutions collect and store vast amounts of sensitive data, including personal and financial information of their customers, as well as confidential business information. Unauthorized access to this data can lead to data breaches, privacy violations, and potential regulatory fines. Cybercriminals can use stolen data for identity theft, fraud, or other malicious activities.

Ransomware and Cyber Extortion

Ransomware attacks, in which cybercriminals encrypt an organization’s data and demand payment for its release, are a growing threat to the financial services sector. Operational downtime caused by ransomware can have severe consequences, including disrupted services, financial loss, and reputational damage. Cyber extortion schemes can also involve threats to release stolen data or disrupt critical infrastructure.

Insider Threats

Insider threats, either intentional or accidental, pose a significant risk to financial institutions. Employees or contractors with access to sensitive data or critical systems can cause significant damage through data leaks, sabotage, or unauthorized access. Detecting and mitigating insider threats can be challenging, as they often involve trusted individuals with legitimate access to company resources.

Third-Party Risks and Supply Chain Attacks

The financial services sector relies on an extensive network of third-party providers and partners, which can introduce additional cyber security risks. Cybercriminals can exploit vulnerabilities in these third parties’ systems to infiltrate their target’s network, disrupt services, or steal sensitive data. Supply chain attacks can have far-reaching consequences, including financial loss, operational disruption, and reputational damage.


Continuous Application Penetration Testing at FNZ.
Incenter is a total game changer.

$1.5 Trillion


At OccamSec, it’s not unusual to work with financial services companies to determine the risk posed by security adversaries. But a recent interaction with our client FNZ, a global wealth management platform that manages $1.4 trillion in assets, proved the value of continuous penetration testing.

Traditionally, pen-testing happens once a year or a point in time exercise. Instead, FNZ opted for a more ongoing assessment approach when looking for vulnerabilities provided by our Incenter platform, which is considered a gamechanger in the industry.

While FNZ regularly relies on the platform to highlight vulnerabilities within its own organization, the unique setup also allowed them to conduct an urgent security assessment for a major financial services client. Since Incenter is always on, OccamSec could add the client to the platform within 24 hours, and remediation guidance was offered almost immediately. Everything was in scope within a couple of days, and final findings were provided.

If FNZ couldn’t provide that security attestation or report promptly, there was a chance the application couldn’t be released as expected. That could have resulted in a $2 million fine. Instead, FNZ avoided a fine, and the correct level of security was confirmed, ultimately preventing the exploitation of any vulnerability.

This example is evidence there’s a shift in the industry; organizations need to have an ongoing view of threats and vulnerabilities. That’s precisely why OccamSec noted this paradigm shift in the security industry and created the Incenter platform to transition from traditional point-in-time pen tests to continuous security assessment, averting crises before they can even arise.

Incenter is a total game changer in the market. There are only a handful of companies doing continuous pen testing, but OccamSec’s model is completely different from anything I’ve seen...

Robbie Tyrie, Application Security Lead - FNZ