In this image, we use a black and white image of a camera to depict the actions that banks, fund companies, and the investment industry can take to boost and protect themselves while taking action against digital threats.

How the investing industry tackles digital risks

In the investing industry, funds aren’t the only thing that financiers must manage. Increasingly, financial services face complex cyberattacks that hackers develop to compromise businesses and extort funds.

Our last post covered phishing attacks which harness AI to create fake emails, accounts, and voices to scam millions of dollars. What can experts in the investing industry about such convincing, artificially intelligent threats to their businesses? Here, we’ll explore effective strategies that financial services firms deploy against digital risks. Fighting fire with fire helps boost and protect organizations online. 

Incidentally, and speaking of experts, if you’re interested in the latest insights around financial cybercrime, particularly in Scandinavia, the EBRAND team are heading to Copenhagen for a conference of industry leaders in March 2024.

How the investing industry disarms phishing attacks

Cybersecurity researchers frequently place financial services in cybercrime’s top industry targets. In 2022, spear phishing comprised 53% of attacks against this sector. Spear phishing tactics, like the AI-enhanced attack already mentioned, target specific executives, managers, and decision makers in the investing industry, infiltrating their inbox with convincing sender details. When phishing spears strike home, they often extract large sums of money. Either that, or they sow malware across a financial firm’s digital infrastructure.

Combating these attacks is easier said than done. Awareness and education only go so far, as cybercriminals generate increasingly convincing text, imagery, voice, and video with AI. Successful finance firms therefore take the fight to the source, rather than after it arrives in the inbox. 

Here we have an image depicting secure deposit boxes in a bank vault, illustrating financial defences against attacks in the investing industry.

Hackers often register domain names that that look similar enough to legitimate companies to trick their victims. Spoofed domains exploit previously unregistered name variations, along with typos and homoglyphs, to launch their attacks. Domain registrations in and around your company and product names often acts as a threat indicator for incoming phishing attacks. Monitoring suspicious domains and SSL certificates, particularly with active MX (messaging exchange) records, helps you intercept attacks and protect your business from spear phishing. However, monitoring each and every suspicious domain registration takes time and dedication, so industry leaders often collaborate with experts, and choose multiple tactics to tackle digital risks.

Verifying your team over email

Removing a phishing attacker’s domain registration helps take the fight to the cybercriminals. However, investing industry experts add another prong to their security strategy by working to verify their own legitimate communications. Adding a logo to your team’s email sends helps distinguish them from impersonators. It also establishes your presence online, helping you connect with your investors and boost engagement.

Major players in the tech space recently integrated a solution called BIMI (Brand Indicators for Messaging Identification) to do just that. With BIMI, companies register their trademarked brand logos with authorities as a VMC (Verified Mark Certificate). VMCs allow brands to embed their proprietary imagery into their emails, authenticating legitimate sends and distinguishing them from malicious phishing attacks. Microsoft, Apple, Google, and other household names now embrace this solution to help the financial industry counteract impersonations.

Unmasking impostors in the investing industry

Email isn’t the only channel which cybercriminals exploit to target the investing industry and their clients. Each digital channel presents a new avenue for attack, and artificial intelligence helps scammers mass-produce text, imager, and even code to rip the industry off online. Fake investment apps in appstores increasingly trick consumers, who download malicious software onto their phones in your firm’s name. Similarly, job scams and fake social media profiles infiltrate a target’s screens and direct messages, manipulating a target’s trust in your investment firm. 

Here we have an image of a hooded, masked actor, illustrating the cyberthreats and impostors attacking the investing industry, and the need to unmask them to make digital spaces safe.

The diversity of these scam portfolios make them difficult to manage. Even if an investment firm employs cybersecurity staff or brand protection experts, they still need the right tools and tactics. To combat fraudsters, firms must uphold strong working relationships with different digital partners, search each platform manually and flag impersonators, or find a more holistic solution. Digital Risk Protection software, for example, helps investment companies search for their brand, and their key stakeholders, across all relevant channels, using AI to identify, prioritize, and eliminate digital risks. 

Hunting for digital threats on the dark web

The “dark web” is a fitting name for a digital space that harbours enough risks to keep an investment banker up at night. In encrypted messaging platforms, unindexed forums, and dark web pastebins, cybercriminals share stolen investing industry data. This stolen data proves valuable enough to cause chaos for companies and clients alike. Hackers sell “fullz”, or full financial records, along with company passwords, and stolen insider information. Hunting these threats helps legitimate companies identify leaks and curb digital risks before they spiral out of control.

Dark web forums and messaging platforms often require encryption keys or specialist knowledge to access. However, financial experts can configure their browsers to access unindexed digital spaces, and monitor the dark web for any mention of firm. Harnessing machine-learning scrapers to search the dark web also helps you identify threats. Revealing the time, location, and attack channel for each breach delivers crucial threat intelligence. Dark web threat intelligence helps investment firms know when to change their passwords, manage their intranet access, and bolster their digital defences.

Conclusions: How the investing industry tackles digital risks

In conclusion, the more information that the investment industry gathers, the more weapons they wield in the fight against digital risks. Taking down each threat helps protect investors and maintain consumer trust, but it also diverts plenty of company resources. Successful firms collaborate with Digital Risk Protection experts to streamline their strategies and automate their risk identification, prioritization, and remediation. 

Find out exactly how a UK-based investment firm did exactly that with EBRAND’s support in our next guide.

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