October 12, 2023

Trustwave SpiderLabs uncovers critical cybersecurity threats facing financial services industry  


Trustwave company logo. Trustwave SpiderLabs uncovers critical cybersecurity threats facing financial services industry

October 12Trustwave, a leading cybersecurity and managed security services provider, has released comprehensive research shedding light on the distinctive cybersecurity risks facing financial services organisations. The report, “2023 Financial Services Sector Threat Landscape: Trustwave Threat Intelligence Briefing and Mitigation Strategies,” explores the specific threats and risks the financial services industry faces, along with practical insights and mitigations to strengthen defenses.  

In its new research, Trustwave SpiderLabs has documented the attack flow utilised by threat groups, exposing their tactics, techniques, and procedures. From email-borne malicious attachments to abuse of valid accounts, these persistent threats pose significant risks to the financial services sector.  

Financial services organisations are attractive targets because of the elevated potential for monetary gain.  Serving as repositories of wealth, this sector is rich with lucrative opportunities for cybercriminals, who exploit them for financial gains through extortion, theft, and fraud. In addition to the money itself, the financial services sector stores large volumes of sensitive data, including customer information, financial records, and intellectual property. 

Kory Daniels, chief information security officer, Trustwave, said “ In a highly competitive B2B and B2C financial services industry, cybersecurity’s role earning and sustaining consumer trust is paramount as a competitive differentiator. 

For financial institutions, it isn’t just about protecting data, it’s about safeguarding the financial well-being and peace of mind of customers, partners, and investors.  Our latest threat briefing is a valuable resource for business leaders and cyber defenders within the financial services sector, providing a comprehensive view of the threats observed by our SpiderLabs team, along with specific mitigation strategies to help organisations protect extremely sensitive data and assets.” 

The Trustwave SpiderLabs report analyses threat groups and their methods throughout the attack cycle, from initial foothold through to exfiltration. A few key findings from the report include: 

  • The Clop threat group accounted for 39 per cent of ransomware incidents targeting the financial services sector. 
  • A majority of the targeted financial services companies reporting a breach are from the U.S. (51 per cent) with India (9 per cent), and Russia/Mexico (7 per cent) coming in a far second and third, respectively. 
  • HTML attachments make up 78 per cent of the file types being used for email-borne malware attachments. 33 per cent of these HTML files employ obfuscation as a means of defence evasion. 

Trustwave SpiderLabs’ research serves as a resource for financial services organisations to understand and combat the multitude of attack groups, malware variants, and techniques deployed against them. The report explores: 

Cybersecurity challenges unique to the financial services industry 

  • Sensitive data: The financial services industry holds a vast amount of sensitive customer data, including names, addresses, bank account numbers, and credit card numbers, making the sector a high-value target. Organisations must be vigilant and inventory where this data resides. It’s impossible to protect something without knowing where it is. 
  • Heavily regulated: Heightened regulation is a double-edged sword. While it incentivises increased protections, it can also make it complex and expensive for financial institutions to implement and maintain effective cybersecurity programs. 
  • Trust as currency: Consumers anchor their financial decisions on trust. If trust is eroded by the compromise of personal data or account information, customers can and will take their money elsewhere. This means they are a prime target for cyber criminals who will try to exploit this dependency on trust.  
  • Partnership complexity: As a byproduct of strict regulations, it can be difficult for financial institutions to partner with vendors or incorporate tools that could improve their security posture. There are unique barriers and requirements for partners, adding complexity to an already complicated landscape.
  • Interconnectedness:  In addition to business partners, the financial services industry is heavily interconnected with other service vendors and financial entities, such as merchants and payment processors, opening it up to supply chain and third-party risk. 

Prevalent threat actors and threat tactics operating across financial services 

Threat actors: 

  • Clop
  • LockBit
  • Alphv / BlackCat
  • Black Basta
  • 8Base
  • Akira
  • Royal 

Threat tactics 

  • Email-Borne malicious attachments (downloaders, HTML smuggling)
  • Phishing (IPFS, Google/Cloudflare services, RPMSG)
  • BEC (payroll diversion, contact request)
  • Vulnerability exploitation
  • Credential access (brute forcing, abuse of valid accounts)
  • Malware (Infostealers, ransomware) 

To access the full Trustwave SpiderLabs threat report, “2023 Financial Services Sector Threat Landscape: Trustwave Threat Intelligence Briefing and Mitigation Strategies,” please click here. 

About Trustwave 

Trustwave is a globally recognised cybersecurity leader that reduces cyber risk and fortifies organisations against disruptive and damaging cyber threats. 

Trustwave’s comprehensive offensive and defensive cybersecurity portfolio detects what others cannot, responds with greater speed and effectiveness, optimises its client’s cyber investment, and improves security resilience. Trusted by thousands of organisations worldwide, Trustwave leverages its world-class team of security consultants, threat hunters, and researchers, and its market-leading security operations platform to decrease the likelihood of attacks and minimise potential impact. 

Trustwave is an analyst-recognised leader in managed detection and response (MDR), managed security services (MSS), cyber advisory, penetration testing, database security, and email security. The elite Trustwave SpiderLabs team provides industry-defining threat research, intelligence, and threat hunting, all of which are infused into Trustwave services and products to fortify cyber resilience in the age of inevitable cyber-attacks. 

For more information about Trustwave, please visit: https://www.trustwave.com/en-us/. 




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