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Criminals Targeted Security Gaps at Financial Services Firms as Employees Moved to WFH


According to a report released on Tuesday by the international Financial Stability Board (FSB), criminals targeted security flaws at financial services organizations as their employees switched to working from home. The Financial Stability Board (FSB) was established after the G20 London meeting in April 2009 to offer non-binding recommendations on the global financial system and to coordinate financial policies for the G20 group of nations. 

“Working from home (WFH) arrangements propelled the adoption of new technologies and accelerated digitalization in financial services,” the report states. Phishing, spyware, and ransomware were used to target workers at home. Between February 2020 and April 2021, the number of crimes increased from less than 5000 per week to more than 200,000 per week. 

On July 8, 2021, the Cyber Security Agency of Singapore (CSA) released data suggesting that cybercrime accounted for 43% of all crime in the city-state in 2020. "Although the number of phishing incidents remained stable and website defacements declined slightly, malicious cyber activities remain a concern amid a rapidly evolving global cyber landscape and increased digitalization brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic," said the agency. 

Ransomware attacks increased by 154% from 35 in 2019 to 89 in 2020, ranging from "indiscriminate, opportunistic attacks" to "Big Game Hunting," according to the CSA. They also used leak and shame techniques, as well as RaaS (Ransomware-as-a-Service) models. Between 2019 and 2020, the number of hostile command-and-control servers increased by 94%, with Emotet and Cobalt Strike malware accounting for one-third of the total. 

As IT departments tried to secure remote workers, increased dependence on virtual private networks and unsecured WiFi access points “posed new types of hurdles in terms of patching and other cyber security issues,” according to the FSB assessment. External providers, according to the research, also built cracks for hackers to exploit. According to the report, "While outsourcing to third-party providers, such as cloud services, seems to have enhanced operational resilience at financial institutions, increased reliance on such services may give rise to new challenges and vulnerabilities." 

Working from home isn't going away any time soon. According to Gartner, nearly half of knowledge employees will be working remotely by 2022. Even Apple's retail team follows a hybrid work schedule. Institutions' cyber risk management systems, incident reporting, response and recovery efforts, and how they manage cloud and other third-party services should all be adjusted properly, according to the FSB.

Covid-19 has led to Increase in Cyberattacks Against Banks and Insurers


According to recent studies, the coronavirus pandemic and working from home (WFH) provisions are triggering a "huge" increase in attacks against financial institutions. The COVID Crime Index 2021 survey, published on Wednesday by BAE Systems Applied Intelligence, looked at how the remote working paradigm is affecting the banking and insurance industries.

Cybersecurity analysts expected that every 11 seconds in 2021, a cyberattack will occur. It's almost twice as frequent as it was in 2019 (every 19 seconds), and four times as frequent as it was five years earlier (every 40 seconds in 2016). Cybercrime is estimated to cost the global economy $6.1 trillion a year, making it the world's third-largest economy, behind only the United States and China. 

The situation is ripe for manipulation, given that the current pandemic has a greater portion of the population operating from home — and all of the associated disruptions. The harried, rushed, exhausted, and depressed employee has become the weapon of choice, and the humble home router has become the surface attack. It's no surprise that over 4,000 malicious COVID pages appeared on the internet within months of the pandemic's first lockdown.

The gradual transition to WFH models is being loosened in certain places as the pandemic appears to have a global effect, but many organizations are preferring to either continue encouraging workers to operate remotely or follow hybrid working practices. For the near future, HSBC and JP Morgan, for example, would encourage thousands of their workers to work from home. 

Security has also proved to be difficult. According to a survey by BAE Systems, 74 percent of banks and insurers have seen an increase in cyberattacks since the pandemic began, and "criminal behavior" reported by financial institutions has increased by about a third (29 percent). The study is focused on two surveys of 902 financial services companies, as well as fieldwork in both the US and UK markets in March 2021. 

According to the survey, 42% of banks and insurers agree that working from home has rendered their companies "less safe," and 44% believe that remote models have caused visibility issues through established networks. Many businesses have been forced to cut expenses anywhere they can, and when it comes to cybersecurity, average risk, anti-fraud, and cybersecurity budgets have been slashed by 26%, contributing to 37% of businesses saying their consumers are now more vulnerable to cybercrime and fraud. 

According to the survey, 56 percent of UK and US banks have suffered such casualties, with the average expense of online illegal activities approaching $720,000 since the pandemic.

Be on the look out for 2 new features on Google meet: Q&A and Polls

Video Conferencing is the one tool that makes work from home achievable and hassle free and with systems like Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Google Meet the work from home scenario has settled quite comfortably. But with increasing users and demand, competition among these softwares has become cut-throat. Though Zoom is dominating the market currently, Google meet has announced two new features to be integrated from October 8th.

The two features that Google announced on their blogpost are Q&A and Polls.

 “Starting October 8, we’re launching two highly-requested features in Google Meet to help you connect and engage with people on your video calls: Q&A and polls,” said Google in the blog post. 

Both these features will help to engage with your audience; Google said the Q&A will help the audience and well as the host to get their queries answered be it for educators or the workforce.

 “Educators can use Q&A as a structured way for students to ask questions on class content and get answers from teachers,” said Google. 

Q&A will provide students with a structured way to ask their questions and users can even up-vote questions they want to be answered without disrupting the session. It will also help the host to answer the most asked question, they will also get an email listing the questions if they want to address them later. Businesses can also use Q&A to be more clear and inclusive. 

The polls on other hand are an interesting feature to add but not any less relevant with quite some advantages. They are very good for feedbacks, quick decision making that is inclusive, for quiz and votes. 

"Business users can easily get real-time feedback from their colleagues, teachers can quiz remote students to ensure they’re absorbing the material, and sales teams can make their sales presentations to prospective customers more engaging and interactive,” said Google. 

The feature will be available to Suite Essentials, G Suite Business, G Suite Enterprise, and G Suite Enterprise for Education customers but not to G Suite Basic, G Suite for Education, and G Suite for Nonprofit customers. 

 Be on the lookout for the new features on Oct 8, but it could take 15 days to reach everywhere.