Whaling Attacks on the Finance Industry? Yes You Are Reading Right.

Whaling attacks also known as CEO frauds, are washing over the finance industry, causing severe and seemingly insurmountable damage. Experts estimate that the finance industry suffered a $12 billion loss over the past few years, making it a vertical that’s attacked 300 times more than others.  In some cases, financial organizations stated that whaling fraud costs them $16.7 billion in a single year! It’s clear that financial businesses can no longer afford to ignore these attacks. But what next?

In this blog post we will explore why this may be a bigger problem than the finance industry  believes and what can be done. An even more detailed explanation can be found in our new eBook, which is now available.  

Whale Watching: You Can’t Stop What You Can’t See

As with other phishing attacks, prevention depends on awareness. Financial institutions’ employees on all levels must understand how whaling attacks work, learn to recognize them, and realize the damage they might cause. Executives who are considered ‘hot targets’ should receive the  training needed to spot whaling attacks and report them.    

But this is easier said than done. Consider the sneaky and deceptive nature of such attacks, which target a company’s high profile executives and are often only discovered when it’s too late. That’s why whaling attacks must be dealt with differently to other phishing scams. Security experts are right to refer to them as “a more sophisticated and ambitious form of phishing.” And this changes everything about how financial organizations deal with these attacks. 

Attackers Are Having a Whale of a Time: The Appeal of Whaling in Finance

What makes CEO fraud so appealing to cybercriminals looking to exploit the financial industry? Clearly, it’s all about financial gain.Using whaling attacks, cybercriminals can easily bypass any financial organization’s multi-tiered security which often relies on multiple identity and authorization checks This means that with just one successful attack, cybercriminals can strike gold. Cybercriminals may choose to impersonate executives to access their data and use it to execute many other attacks. A single attack can lead them to a goldmine of financial data. It’s also important to remember that just because executives in the finance field hold the key to plenty of sensitive information doesn’t mean they’re tech-savvy and aware of the latest phishing attacks. That’s where anti-phishing solutions and training must fill the gap.       

Whaling on: Don’t Just Protect Against Whaling, Get Proactive

There are several factors to consider:

    • Multi-tiered protection: There are different stages to the process. These include detection, takedown, and multiple steps in between. Companies need an anti-phishing solution that understands each step and offers specific innovative threat-hunting technology to handle it. 
    • All hands on deck: Any chosen anti-phishing (and whaling) solution should consider a company’s legal and security teams’ valuable input. The process also requires the participation of employees on different levels in extensive dedicated training. 
    • Proactive protection: A proactive approach is essential to effectively protect companies from whaling attacks. Threats must be taken down before any damage is caused and before the attack spreads to other areas within the organization. It’s not enough to detect whaling attacks, and a proper solution should be able to remove them. 

Businesses must keep in mind that they’re looking for a cybersecurity solution that will keep their C-level executives as well as their brand safe. Complete protection relies on more than just effective security solutions. It also involves third parties the company employs and interacts with, and other parts of the security puzzle that enable companies to deal with the threat in time and properly remove it.  

Want an in-depth understanding of whaling attacks in the finance industry as well as how they can be prevented? Download our new eBook 

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