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Feds Point to Escalated Ransomware Attacks on Financial Institutions, Offer Guidance Based on Success Stories

Filip TRUȚĂ

July 16, 2020

Feds Point to Escalated Ransomware Attacks on Financial Institutions, Offer Guidance Based on Success Stories

The U.S. Security and Exchange Commission”s (SEC”s) Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations (OCIE) has issued an alert warning of an escalated number of ransomware attacks on financial institutions.

The office details its findings in a free PDF and offers advice to targeted infrastructures on how to bolster their cybersecurity defenses.

“Recent reports indicate that one or more threat actors have orchestrated phishing and other campaigns designed to penetrate financial institution networks to, among other objectives, access internal resources and deploy ransomware,” the document reads.

“OCIE has also observed an apparent increase in sophistication of ransomware attacks on SEC registrants, which include broker-dealers, investment advisers, and investment companies,” it notes.

According to the office, those behind the attacks demand ransom to “maintain the integrity and/or confidentiality of customer data or for the return of control over registrant systems.”

OCIE has also observed attacks on service providers working with targeted financial institutions. It advises potential targets to monitor alerts published by the Department of Homeland Security”s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA). The documentation underscores the tactics and techniques employed by threat actors, along with related indicators of compromise (IOCs) and key mitigation strategies.

The office dispenses further guidance based on success stories seen at organizations with robust incident response and resiliency policies, procedures and plans.

Operational resiliency is high on the list of recommendations, as it helps determine which systems and processes can be restored during a disruption so services can still be delivered.

Other highlights include awareness and training programs, vulnerability scanning and patch management, access management, and perimeter security.

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