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Is the financial sector at risk of being hit with DDoS attack?

The financial sector has experienced a significant rise in cybercrime activity over the past few years as the following stats from the UK COVID CRIME INDEX 2021 REPORT show.

  • Three-quarters (74%) of banks and insurers experienced rise in cybercrime since the pandemic began.

  • IT security, cybercrime, fraud, or risk department budgets had been cut by almost a third (26%) in the past 12 months.

  • This mirrors the criminal activity detected by financial institutions that had risen by (29%) since the start of the pandemic.

  • 42% of FIs said that the remote working model due to COVID-19 makes them less secure.

And it’s not surprising to understand why. Cybercrime is now the biggest economic threat in the global economy – it’s cheap and easy to carry out and really hard to catch the people doing it. Couple that with remote working and a post pandemic business model for many that is tied to online trade, and you have the perfect storm.

As we have repeatedly said in the Centre, the single most common reason for committing a cyber attack is to make money. DDoS attacks interrupt business operations, result in significant financial losses for the victim, and pose a substantial danger to financial institutions. According to Akamai, DDoS attacks against the financial services industry increased by 93 percent between 2018 and 2020, demonstrating that criminals always have the option of causing disruptions in critical systems, services, and applications required for daily operations.

So, what is a DDoS attack?

A distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack is a malicious attempt to disrupt the normal traffic of a targeted server, website, or network by overwhelming it with a flood of Internet traffic.

DDoS attacks frequently come from multiple sources to make their identification more difficult. It can also hinder the victim organization’s attempts to stop the DDoS.

In lay terms it’s like an unexpected traffic jam clogging up the highway, preventing regular traffic from arriving at its destination.

DDoS normally present themselves, as you would expect, by a slowing or crashing of a company’s network or website. Which costs you time, reputation and money and potentially drives your customers to competitors websites.

Can you protect yourself from these attacks?

DDoS attacks are notoriously difficult to prevent. The attackers don’t necessarily need internal access to the network as the attack is from the outside. They are increasing in complexity and sophistication meaning that defense against these dark arts needs continual review. But the key points for protection to remember are:-

  • Know your network's traffic. A free tool that we can recommend here is Police CyberAlarm

  • Create a Denial-of-Service Response Plan within your incident response plan.

  • Make your network resilient and practice good cyber hygiene – using CE principles.

  • Scale up your bandwidth. The greater the bandwidth the more effort a DDoS attacker will have to make to crash your site. Moving your operation to the cloud may help.

  • Take advantage of anti-DDoS hardware and software. Speak to your Managed Service Provider (MSP) if you have one.

  • Make sure all staff know the symptoms of an attack and respond quickly to it using your plan.

What next?

The impact of a successful attack against your website or network can be catastrophic and lead to website downtime, loss of business and loss of reputation. In the worst cases it can lead to the closure of the business altogether. But all is not lost.

So, what can I do?

Here at the centre, we would advise you to do three things now:-

  • Join our growing community by signing up to free core membership of the Eastern Cyber Resilience Centre. You will be supported through implementing the changes you need to make to protect your business and your customers.

  • For small and medium sized businesses in the Eastern region we would recommend that you look at improving you overall cyber resilience through the free Little Steps pathway we provide to Cyber Essentials – the basic government backed kite mark standard for cyber security.

  • Join the centre as a free member and we will take you as far as the CE accreditation process. And if you want to pay for the assessment, we can refer you one of our Trusted Partners – all regionally based cyber security companies that can help you become accredited.

  • We would also recommend that you speak to your Managed Service Provider and / or website company to discuss how they can implement cyber resilience measures on your behalf.

  • And remember that a company operating under Cyber Essentials processes is 99% protected either fully or partially from today’s common cyber-attacks.

Reporting a live cyber-attack 24/7 ​If you are a business, charity or other organisation which is currently suffering a live cyber-attack (in progress), please call Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 immediately. This service is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Reporting a cyber-attack which isn't ongoing ​

Please report online to Action Fraud, the UK's national reporting centre for fraud and cybercrime. You can report cybercrime online at any time using the online reporting tool, which will guide you through simple questions to identify what has happened. Action Fraud advisors can also provide the help, support, and advice you need.

Alternatively, you can call Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 (textphone 0300 123 2050).


The contents of this website are provided for general information only and are not intended to replace specific professional advice relevant to your situation. The intention of The Cyber Resilience Centre for the East is to encourage cyber resilience by raising issues and disseminating information on the experiences and initiatives of others. Articles on the website cannot by their nature be comprehensive and may not reflect most recent legislation, practice, or application to your circumstances. The Cyber Resilience Centre for the East provides affordable services and Trusted Partners if you need specific support. For specific questions please contact us.

The Cyber Resilience Centre for the East does not accept any responsibility for any loss which may arise from reliance on information or materials published on this document. The Cyber Resilience Centre for the East is not responsible for the content of external internet sites that link to this site or which are linked from it.

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