Illegal bot attacks are a key cybersecurity risk for the financial services industry, with nearly half of all traffic at financial services login pages being generated by bots, according to Imperva.
The financial services sector is the most at-risk sector in Australia in terms of illegal bot attacks in Australia, with 47.7% of traffic on login pages generated by bots, according to a recent report from Imperva, a cybersecurity service provider. Bots scrape data from sites without permission in order to reuse it, and in the case of web crime and fraud, can be used to discover account login information.
Protecting account and client information is a governance matter and has to be grounded in the understanding that data is an important asset for financial services companies, said Stuart Wilson, vice president for the financial services sector in Asia Pacific, Imperva.
"The number one thing companies understand is that their asset is data," Wilson said. "Yes, applications are a method that people use to get to the data, but there's a strong representation and understanding that the critical assets of an organisation is data. When you put that as the centre, governance absolutely needs to be around data."
Data governance means not only how customers access their own accounts, but also how companies leverage that resulting consumer data for insights to develop better client experiences. As financial services companies increase their awareness of data as an asset, more governance personnel are coming into the equation, Wilson noted.
"There's always the cybersecurity teams and their ever-growing and ever-building control landscapes around data, but we're speaking further and more frequently to privacy teams, and what I see emerging under the chief data officer is that that person is looking that those insights and the privacy around the consumer. We're also speaking with regulatory and internal audit functions, because one part of the foundation of governance is having strong internal audit functions."
Financial services companies are making investment to enhance governance and administrative controls to manage cybersecurity threats, Wilson said.
"In terms of issues like data warehousing/bringing data to a central point to get the insights around the consumer, businesses are starting to do that and as regulatory bodies and legislation kick in around issues like open banking and sharing of that client data, it's even more critical to identify those risks and understand what that means," he said.
Risk to data is multifaceted. Imperva reported that beyond content and price scraping, the biggest bot problem is credential stuffing and credential cracking. Imperva noted in its research is that a recent attack that Imperva mitigated lasted 60 hours and included 44 million login attempts. A large-scale attack can cause "significant infrastructure strain leading to slowdowns or downtime."
Imperva has identified that bot attacks are seeing a steady, consistent increase year on year. Other sectors are also affected - Imperva identified education, IT and services, marketplaces and government as the other sectors in the top five sectors at risk of bad bot attacks.
"The goal is to mitigate those risks/ attacks closest to the source, furthest from your infrastructure or network," Wilson said. "Th quicker that we can mitigate it to the source, the less likely it is to travel to the organisation and impact on the client experience.
"Having the appropriate bot mitigation strategy is paramount, and ensuring that these controls are in place and not just monitoring/ data is key. We want to put that positive security in place."