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Running Head: CYBERSECURITY 1 Causes of Cyber Attacks on Financial Institutions
UMUC Running Head: CYBERSECURITY 2 Causes of Cyber Attacks on Financial Institutions
The 21st century has evolved in numerous ways from the social, economical and
technological stand points. Within all these changes, crime has evolved. Its no longer
homes being broken into or criminals with mask that forces their way to threaten and
steal. Crime has advanced into silent, discreet, and strategically planned attacks. By the
time a victim is aware, all is lost. Crime has escalated to cyber attacks. The most
vulnerable targets are financial institutions. The FBI has recorded over 21 million fraud
attacks within the first quarter of 2015. Banks manage and maintain a plethora of
personal information that can be used to steal one?s identity, whole life?s savings,
investments, and more importantly, one?s life. There are many possible causes for cyber
attacks on financial institutions not because they contain the ones and zeroes of their
client?s money but they also hold a wealth of personal information of those very clients
that could be invaluable in the criminal underworld, and moreover just the simple thrill.
Getting rich quick without having to work hard is at the heart of most crimes, and
computer related crimes are not different in that aspect at all. These criminals use a
computer in the place of a gun or knife. Many businesses and people around the globe
use financial institutions to manage their money, savings and investments. Within these
accounts there are many vulnerabilities that allow sophisticated criminals to steal their
funds out of their accounts. With lack of knowledge or shear over sight, criminals can
fraudulently fake a reputable financial institution?s website and steal legitimate user
account credentials or phish for account information through emails. It is simple with low
risks, low cost and opportunistic of those that are oblivious to these common attacks. By
obtaining login information, funds can be fraudulently transferred or for larger Running Head: CYBERSECURITY 3 transactions ACH (Automated Clearing House.) ACH is used to move money and
information within the United States. Examples seen by the general public consist of
direct deposits, payroll or automatic scheduled payments. ATM skimming is also
prevalent. Skimming is using a device that appears to look and like an ATM machine but
captures card information and pin numbers, to be later used to create mock ATM cards to
steal funds from the joined accounts. With a wide variety of machines, a negligent user
can easily be a victim. Cyber-attacks are widespread within financial institutions because
of inevitable changes and developments within scamming negligent victims and
numerous businesses that fail to maintain security measures to fraudulently steal money.
Banks manage and maintain more than enough personal information that can be
used to steal one?s identity to ruin and exploit their life personally, professionally and
financially. The personal information that is stored in these databases contains social
security numbers that many business, corporations and states use to identify an
individual?s identity. Applying for credit or opening an account simply requires a form of
identification and social security number, all this information and more is stored within a
financial institution?s database. The amount of PII (Personal Identifiable Information) that
is stored can easily be used to steal one?s identity. For starters, any benefits a victim may
be receiving from social security, retirement or pension can be stripped and taken away.
Birthdates, family members names such as children and spouses, home and work
addresses along with phone numbers are all within a financial database. The combination
of this information can used to by any criminal. An individual?s professional life can be
compromised by employment and tax fraud, one can be fraudulently getting a job,
paying, filing taxes and receiving refunds in another?s name. With the personal Running Head: CYBERSECURITY 4 information stolen, criminals use this information to sell to the third parties or groups that
share a common goal to exploit the victims.
Thrill seeker hacking has to one of the worst of the cyber related financial crimes
simply because they can. There is no agenda or any other reason for these highly
intelligent programmers to do the things that they other than looking for a challenge.
Hackers are not superheroes, they do not show restraint they can be compared to that of
you children that do things because they can not because they should. Many of the most
intelligent hackers or computer programmers see themselves as puzzle solvers and
hacking is their puzzle- the harder the better. Whether they are sending malware,
committing some sophisticated phishing scheme or even a very elementary denial-ofservice (DDoS) attack many people believe banks should be a bit more prepared for these
attacks. DDoS attacks are very rudimentary but very effective with a free program
downloaded in less than 5 minutes the most novice hacker can clog up and eventually
crash a webpage. Monitoring network traffic should have been something they were
already doing on a regular basis along with keeping patches updated and insuring the
firewall program is operating efficiently its up to the banks to protect our money. The FBI
has been frustrated in the past due to banks not fully disclosing their fraud rates and
keeping certain instances hush-hush. (Messmer, E., 2012). This makes it hard for the
banks to receive the correct help and assistance with the mitigation of these cyber-attacks.
If the bank had made sure firewalls have session limits and routers have packet and frame
inspections, line-rate ACLs, as well as rate limits they could have potentially been more
protected from DDoS attacks. Having comprehensive inspection on the firewalls and
SYN proxy mechanisms can aide in the protection of DDoS attacks. Limiting the number Running Head: CYBERSECURITY 5 of SYNs per second per IP and SYNs per second per destination IP would have stepped
the same IP from pinging the banks website causing the attack. Also setting the ICMP and
UDP floor screen thresholds in the firewall would have helped with protection.
Hopefully, as Network and Computer Security improve there will be better ways to
protect these very sensitive networks and security networks will become better defended
from these type and other attacks.
Financial institutions not only maintain money or personal information but also
financial activity. This activity can reveal behavior patterns, spending, itinerary history
and financial intentions and supports. So we do our best as individuals to protect
ourselves from any actions that might give away this information. Knowing that financial
institution are the next cog in the world banking system and are all about maximizing
profits at the lowest cost. It should also be clear that the operations of such an institution
not only works with sensitive information but also personal identifiable information (PII).
Which could cause a long time devastating harm on their customers when there is a
breach. It is not uncommon practice for organizations to rather take care aftermath of
security breaches than fixing it at first. Claiming that the proactive measure would cost
way more. At the same time business reputation and continuity should also play a role in
such business decisions. Thus, for any and all financial institutions to optimally represent
their mission and values, it is very imperative to assure the customers of their security
and protection not only with their money but also with their personal information. Running Head: CYBERSECURITY 6 Your Reference page needs a title. Retrieval dates should not be used. ACH Network: How it Works. (n.d.). Retrieved September 25, 2016, from https://www.nacha.org/achnetwork Hacktivists leak more data than cybercriminals. (2012). Computer Fraud & Security, 2012(4), 13. doi:10.1016/s13613723(12)700246 Lagazio, M., Sherif, N., & Cushman, M. (2014). A multilevel approach to understanding
the impact of cyber crime on the financial sector. Computers & Security, 45, 58
74. doi:10.1016/j.cose.2014.05.006 Messmer, E. April 4, 2014. New federal rule requires banks to fight DDoS attacks.
Retrieved on May 18, 2014 from: http://www.infoworld.com/d/security/newfederal-rule-requires-banks-fight-ddos-attacks-239893?page=0,0
Menn, J. May 18, 2013. Cyber-attacks against banks more severe than most realize.
Retrieved on May 18, 2014 from: http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/05/18/uscyber-summit-banks-idUSBRE94G0ZP20130518
Messmer, E. October 24, 2012. DDoS attacks against banks raise question: Is this
cyberwar? Retrieved on May 19, 2014 from:
Mossburg, E. (2015, December 15). A Deeper Look At The Financial Impact of Cyber Attacks. Financial Executive. Retrieved from http://daily.financialexecutives.org/adeeperlookatthefinancialimpactof
cyberattacks/ Running Head: CYBERSECURITY 7 Patterson, M. (2012, November 11). BANKS LIKELY TO REMAIN TO CYBERCRIME TARGETS. Retrieved September 25, 2016, from https://www.symantec.com/content/en/us/enterprise/other_resources/b_Financial_
Attacks_Exec_Report.pdf Sadhukhan, K., Mallari, R. A., & Yadav, T. (2015). Cyber Attack Thread: A controlflow
based approach to deconstruct and mitigate cyber threats. 2015 International Conference on Computing and Network Communications (CoCoNet). doi:10.1109/coconet.2015.7411183 Snow, G. M. (2011, September 14). THE CYBER THREAT TO THE FINANCIAL SECTOR. Retrieved September 25, 2016, from https://archives.fbi.gov/archives/news/testimony/cybersecuritythreatstothe
Still, B. (2005). Hacking for a cause. First Monday, 10(9). doi:10.5210/fm.v10i9.1274
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