Fintech’s Greatest Breakthrough of the Year, and Cybersecurity Threats to look out for

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Financial technology, or Fintech, is a descriptive term for technology that improves and at the same time automates financial services delivery. Fintech is intended for helping consumers and businesses control their financial processes by the use of unique algorithms and software used on smartphones on apps and computers.

When Fintech first emerged, it referred to technology that was used in the back offices of financial institutions. In the past few years, Fintech underwent a paradigm shift, and Fintech is more focused on services that are more customer-oriented such as retail banking, education, fundraising, etc.

Voice Technology

Fintech keeps getting better as technology advances. There have been several breakthroughs in Fintech, and one of the technologies that are advancing at a rapid pace is voice technology. Already, voice technology is in use for operating TVs, GPS.

Speaker or voice recognition is a machine’s ability to interpret voice commands and carry them out. Voice recognition has become prominent with the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and intelligent assistants, some of which are already in use in our homes such as Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa.

The banking industry has been slow on the uptake but is slowly starting to come round. Now, some banks are already using voice technology but limited to tasks such as checking your last transactions. In the next few years, technology will have significantly advanced to include more responsibilities, such as mortgage applications and money transfers. 

Technological cyber threats

Intelligent assistants are a convenient way of doing things, but as with everything, there are dangers attached. Using voice commands make you susceptible to voice hacking. Voice hacking is a cyber-threat that involves recording or mimicking the user’s voice.

Voice-based authentication involves ensuring that the user’s spoken passphrase remains untampered. The user’s passphrase and the authorized voiceprint are stored in an encrypted and secure database. The perils of voice-command hacking seem far-fetched because they are rare, but in a few years, it might be very rampant. 

If a user’s voice sample gets into the wrong hands, or a hacker can impersonate the user’s voice, it would be disastrous, especially when it comes to clients’ financial data. Scientists are working on security measures that will thwart any voice hacking attempts.

Magnetic fields are the main element of playback audio recording. Researchers are working on an app that uses a compass for the detection of a voice’s proximity. The app then identifies the authenticity of the voice. Soon, the banking industry will fully adopt voice technology, and better security features will be available to counter the hackers’ attempts at voice impersonation.

Other Fintech cyber threats

Voice command hacking is not the only threat to the Fintech industry. Others include:

Phishing

Phishing is perhaps one of the most common and successful cybercrime. Hackers have become very good at using fake website links to dupe unsuspecting users. The hackers create a phoney website, mostly a financial institution, and then send an email with a malicious link to the user. Once the user clicks on the seemingly legit link, it leads to the hacker’s fake website and goes ahead to ask for the victims’ information such as passwords.

Phishing comes in several forms such as voice phishing or Vishing. Vishing is a form of phishing that uses voice over the internet (VoIP) protocol. Hackers create caller ID profiles which dupe the user into thinking the numbers are legitimate. The hackers then go ahead and try to get sensitive data from the victim.

Vishing in banking

Vishing scams in banking involve calls from persons purporting to be from a bank, mostly the victims’ bank. They may indicate there is an issue with their bank account and ask them to transfer their funds to another account, which is just a scam.

Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS) attacks

DDoS attacks aim to slow websites by jamming them and making the services unavailable to their users. These attacks can cause financial institutions a lot of damage and inconvenience to clients who use mobile apps to conduct their business activities.

Web application attacks

Web applications such as Google docs or online calculators that use the internet are vulnerable attack points. These applications are accessible and rely on the user’s input.

Insider threats

60% of cyber threats occur through the employees. Insiders target financial institutions and unhappy employees or poorly paid tellers. Most of these attacks are entirely intentional, with the insiders handing over their confidential log-in credentials to hackers. Human error and being duped by phishing or Vishing scams cause a small percentage of internal attacks.

How to stay safe from these cyber threats

These cyber threats are an ever-present danger and safety starts with a few measures:

Employee empowerment

Bank employees need to be educated on the risks of internet vulnerabilities. Empowering employees is also a big part of thwarting cybercrime. The hackers may use the financial weakness of the bank tellers by luring them with the promise of a considerable sum of money. Financial institutions have to secure themselves from within before they tackle outside threats. 

Teaching the employees how to spot scams early is one of the easiest ways to evade hackers. The employees need to know they should never open emails or download any attachments that seem suspicious or from unknown addresses.

Client security

 Banks and financial institutions also need to make clients aware of the various hacking methods. Banks rarely call clients, and when they do, a client needs to be able to recognize when it is legit or not. A bank, for example, can never ask for your credentials or passwords.

Banks should send automated messages and alerts to clients to confirm every transaction carried out. The banks should provide guidelines and for checking source authenticity when asked to give account details.

A VPN creates a safe tunnel between devices and the internet. In this era of mobile banking, Android and iOS VPN is the way to go for clients. The VPN allows the client to carry out any transactions online without fear as the VPN encrypts all communication. The VPN masks the client is IP and hides the client’s location as well, making the client very secure while transacting online.

Enforce security

Financial institutions cannot, and should not run on perimeter security, but on a multi-layer defense system. However, you can have security policies that spell out how IT platforms operate, yet the policies are not being enforced. Every organization must ensure their networks are monitored closely and continuously for any configuration changes. For any configuration changes, they must be policy compliant and approved.

Managing security is a complicated affair which is resource and labor-intensive as well. The senior personnel must be aware at all times of the organization’s real-time security situation, and they must have the ability and clearance to act immediately a breach occurs.

Regularly harden machines

Any bank’s IT section must be taken to task and ensure all workstations and devices in the premises has an activated firewall. The firewall acts as a block to any unauthorized communication.

The operating systems on all computers must receive regular security updates and anti-virus installed for malware detection. All wireless networks must be secure, with password protection measures. Install a VPN and ensure all devices in the institution are covered. Bank client data is susceptible, and hackers may try to get the info by hacking into the banks’ systems.

Account-level alerts

Banks have to watch the transactions in each account. They have to monitor what normal client behavior is and what is not. If a client all of a sudden starts to log in at odd hours of the night, those transactions must be held. The clients must be notified to confirm the validity of the transactions.

If a client carries out odd transactions that are unlike their norm, these are red flags. People rarely change their behavior suddenly, so clients should set a limit on what can be withdrawn from their account at once. If a withdrawal exceeds that amount, the bank should take note and freeze transaction.

Unique user Id

The bank must ensure all the users get different user identification for log-in. They should never use the same password or user name. Each person must have a separate user name so that the institution can create arbitrary user profiles for every user.

Conclusion

Other than money, banks have sensitive and valuable data that hackers would give an arm and a leg for. Banks must guard the data jealously. If a bank is hacked, the action will cause untold damage, both monetary and otherwise. Trust and confidence in the bank would be lost, bringing the institution to its knees.

Employees training on cyber threats, client updates and alerts, use of VPNs, especially for clients who operate mobile apps, are just among the measures that should be taken to combat cybercrime. Hackers are always on the search for new and illegal ways to obtain data, so a financial institution must always ensure they keep a step ahead and regularly update their security measures.

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