Phishing, BEC, and Beyond: Tackling the Top Cyber Threats to UK Banks

 

KnowBe4, the provider of the world’s largest security awareness training and simulated phishing platform, today released its report on cyber threats faced by the financial sector in the UK. The report examines the escalating rise of cyberattacks on this sector, the tactics deployed by cybercriminals and what financial institutions should do to safeguard themselves and their employees.

The report shows that, in general, the financial sector in the UK is under constant attack and that it is grappling to keep pace with ever-evolving cyber threats. A clear urgency is emerging for financial institutions to adapt their security strategies for dealing with more sophisticated cyberattacks as banking is shifting towards being fully digital.

Some key findings in the report reveal a startling landscape of cyber threats:

  • The frequency of ransomware attacks on the financial sector in the UK doubled in 2023, showcasing an alarming escalation.
  • Phishing and Business Email Compromise (BEC) remain the top threats to organisations, which includes financial institutions.
  • AI-driven deepfake audio impersonations are notably on the rise.
  • For the first time, cyberattacks, and their potential to disrupt essential services, were perceived as an acute risk, more so than geopolitical tensions, inflation, or economic recessions.
  • There was a dramatic 81% surge in cyberattacks against UK financial institutions in the year following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, outpacing the global increase of 61% during the same timeframe.
  • Multiple UK banks are lacking basic online and app protections, including use of outdated and vulnerable web applications, failure to enforce secure passwords, and the absence of alerts for critical account changes.

The report further delves into the prevailing cyber threats in the sector as well as real-life examples. It also provides some practical advice on how financial institutions can protect themselves against cyber threats and cyberattacks.

Addressing the urgency of the situation, Javvad Malik, lead security advocate at KnowBe4 stated, “These findings underscore a stark reality for the UK’s financial sector – they are being attacked at an unprecedented rate. Cyber defences need to adapt with the same speed and intelligence as the threats themselves. In addition to traditional security strategies, fostering a culture of security awareness to mitigate the inherent human risk of any organisation is no longer optional; it is a cornerstone for survival against cybercrime.”

To download a copy of KnowBe4’s report on UK financial institutions, click here.

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