Cyberattackers are after your financial data. Whether the goal is using malware to steal this information and sell it to the highest bidder or leveraging ransomware to lock you out and demand payment, malicious actors are looking for any way possible to compromise your network and infiltrate key systems.
Data tells the tell: A recent report from security firm Trend Micro reported that in the first half of 2021, the company blocked more than 40 billion email threats, up 47 percent from the previous year. To keep pace, companies can’t rely on aging security technologies. Emerging solutions such as artificial intelligence (AI) offer a way for companies to reduce total risk without increasing complexity.
How Financial Data Compromise Happens
To improve their chances of breaching business systems, hackers use a variety of attack methods, such as:
- Phishing campaigns
Phishing attacks look to convince users that malicious emails or websites are legitimate. Users feel comfortable providing their username and password, which malicious actors then leverage to gain system access without setting off security alerts.
- Malware infections
Malware downloaded as a malicious attachment or from a compromised website may contain ransomware and other exploits, which allow attackers to encrypt your financial data and demand payment for its release.
- Misconfigured system exploits
System misconfigurations — such as storage solutions that don’t require a password or network settings that allow public network visibility — can be used by attackers to gain access.
- Exploiting absent encryption
Data that isn’t encrypted is ripe for exploitation by attackers. If they’re able to “listen in” on email threads or video calls, they can easily obtain key data.
How Artificial Intelligence Can Help
Artificial intelligence “is typically defined as the ability of a machine to perform cognitive functions we associate with human minds.” In the context of data defense, AI solutions underpinned by machine learning (ML) algorithms can be trained to perform time- and resource-heavy security functions that would otherwise fall to IT teams. By automating these functions, businesses can increase accuracy while simultaneously frustrating attacker efforts and giving IT teams time to focus on business-driven initiatives.
Common use cases for AI in defending financial data include:
- Providing 24/7 security
AI tools don’t take breaks. Instead, they’re up and running 24/7/365 to help track and respond to threats in real time.
- Predicting possible threats
AI solutions can also leverage current and historic data to predict possible threats and take specific action. For example, a user logging in from an unfamiliar location at a strange time could trigger an AI response to deny access until more robust identity verification is completed.
- Pinpointing security weaknesses
Where application permissions, authentication tools and users overlap, security weaknesses are more likely. But the growing complexity of mobile and cloud environments makes finding these vulnerabilities challenging for security teams — AI tools can help pinpoint potential problems before they’re exploited by attackers.
- Improving data encryption
Using AI tools can also help boost data encryption across information at rest, in transit and in use. By automatically encrypting data and detecting the use of unencrypted data sources, AI can help companies maintain a robust security posture.
Financial data is under threat as attackers look to compromise business networks and capture valuable information. AI makes it possible to augment existing security measures with agile and adaptable protection. Please see the accompanying resource for more tips on keeping your business’s financial data safe.
Infographic created by DFIN, an SEC reporting software company