Factors to Consider When Weighing Your Financial Firm’s Cyber Risks

cyber risks

For financial services professionals, cybersecurity must be a top priority. This means understanding why financial services firms are so vulnerable to cyberattacks. To understand the cyber risks your financial services firm is facing, it’s important to first understand who is behind those threats and what motivates them to perpetuate cyber attacks.


When we think of the people behind all of the scams we come across online, we typically picture cybercriminals. These are individual actors or small cooperative groups of people working to scam individuals and organizations. Cybercriminals are generally motivated by money; think of all the phishing emails you get in your inbox trying to convince you to provide your bank details or $5,000 worth of Visa gift cards. Their objective is to trick as many people as possible into giving them funds or to steal people’s personal information so they can access funds fraudulently. Those who graduate from digital petty theft will often begin targeting companies such as vulnerable small businesses and financial services firms. However, these cybercriminals are not the only malicious entities perpetrating cyberattacks against the financial services industry.


Other cybersecurity threat actors include cyberterrorist groups and hacktivists. These are individuals or groups of individuals who are motivated by their ideologies, which are often extremist in nature. They attack agencies to which they are ideologically opposed as a means to express their discontent and cause disruption for their victims. Their attacks will most often be in the form of leaks, defamation, or DDoS attacks. For financial institutions and financial firms, these attacks are incredibly dangerous because they can jeopardize client confidentiality and a company’s industry standing.

State-Sponsored Actors

The most commonly disregarded—but frequently most dangerous—genre of cyberattack actors is state-sponsored groups. These groups will sometimes be employed by and acting on behalf of a nation-state in an official capacity such as via an intelligence agency. Other times these state-sponsored cybercrime groups are illicitly and secretively funded and directed by governments or government officials. They are motivated by extreme ideological differences and geopolitical relations. Their targets are their political and geopolitical opponents. These state-sponsored groups often take extreme action meant to result in disruption and destruction. This may take the form of irreversible data correction, disruptions to the power grid, and espionage.

Assessing Who Poses a Threat to Your Financial Firm

When evaluating your financial firm’s cyber risks and vulnerabilities, it’s important to consider the reasons why you might sustain a cyberattack. As you craft your approach to cybersecurity, ask these questions:

  • Does my firm have a security program in place?
  • Would cybercriminals be motivated to steal from us?
  • Does my firm have any controversial affiliations with political ideologies, groups, or figures?
  • Are any of your clients notable or controversial people who might be targeted?
  • Is your staff trained on how to identify and respond to cyberattacks?

Work with your cybersecurity partner or managed service provider to assess the cyber risks faced by your organization. CyberTeam provides risk assessments and cybersecurity consultation and management services to companies in the financial services industry. We can help your firm identify risks and take proactive steps to protect your business and your clients. Contact us today for a free consultation.

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