Now more than ever, financial organizations find themselves on the front lines of cybersecurity battles. The records maintained by banks, credit unions, mortgage companies, accounting firms, and even insurance companies contain extremely sensitive personal information. As financial companies evolve into a fully remote and technological format, it is important that information is processed and stored in a secure electronic environment.

Thanks to our enemy COVID-19, there is a 238% surge in targeted cybersecurity attacks on financial institutions. In a survey taken by VMware Carbon Black, 82% of CIOs confirmed that cyber attack techniques appear to be improving — including the use of social engineering and more advanced tactics to exploit not only the human factor but also weak links caused by processes and technologies in use by the supply chain. Additionally, 64% of surveyed organizations reported a 17% increase in wire fraud attempts.

We encourage financial professionals to take the following proactive actions towards cybersecurity:

  1. Establish a dedicated IT security team

It is essential to establish a skilled IT security team who will understand your organization’s unique security risks as well as the proper security tools required to keep your IT environment safe. With a growing number of financials being electronically transferred daily, it is important to process and store information safely.

  1. Implement ongoing cybersecurity training for employees

There is a severe lack of cybersecurity training for financial employees which leaves a significant opening for cyber attacks as well as missteps in human error. To combat this, you must implement ongoing cybersecurity trainings for employees of all levels, specializing the trainings based on role and the most common threats employees might be challenged with.

  1. Create a clear, company-wide cybersecurity policy

Having a clear, company-wide cybersecurity policy in place is vital in order to have employees across an entire organization following the same guiding principles. Once a policy is established, it will remain important to proactively communicate the policy to employees on a regular basis to increase awareness. Annual reviews and updates should be made to the cybersecurity policy in order for the guidelines and recommended actions to remain current.

  1. Integrate technology to monitor your environment.

Data breaches are no longer isolated cases in today’s ever-evolving threat landscape. Anything from misconfiguration, patch lags, and unsecure software or systems can lead to unsecure breach points. Implementing technology that allows real-time security monitoring will result in actionable threat intelligence to better assess incidents and make informed decisions on how to deal with them.

Financial institutions must proactively promote cybersecurity awareness among employees as well implement policies and technology to be prepared for a potential cyber attack. Failure to do so could be catastrophic.