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Matt Townsend 6 min read

A Cybersecurity Wake-Up Call: What Banks Can Learn from Capita's Ransomware Ordeal

In today's rapidly evolving digital landscape, cyber threats have become more sophisticated than ever before. No one is immune, not even large institutions with skilled security teams. Capita, a significant player in the industry, recently faced a harrowing ransomware attack that left them reeling. Let's delve into the incident and explore what banks and vendors can and have learned from it to bolster their cybersecurity defences.


The Capita Ransomware Incident

In March of this year (2023), Capita fell victim to a ransomware attack by the Black Basta ransomware group, shaking the very core of its operations. The impact was immense, with disruptions to some client services and compromised sensitive data. Confidential documents, internal floor plans, and security vetting information were listed for sale on the dark web. The fallout from such an attack can be catastrophic, leaving a company's reputation tarnished and its clients vulnerable.

Last month, the CEO of Capita stepped down from his position. The Guardian reported this comes with a potential fine (possibly around £20m) being levied on the company by the UK's information and privacy regulator. This fine is expected as a result of the cyber attack. While Capita stresses that their CEO's decision is unrelated to the attack, it does add more challenges to a business still recovering from the impact of an attack by the Black Basta ransomware group.


Capita is not alone.

In April, NCR reported that it was hit by a ransomware attack afflicting its point-of-sale system used by 140,000 outlets worldwide. NCR confirmed that only one of its data centres was affected and that it continues to conduct an internal investigation into the incident with the assistance of an external forensics firm and law enforcement agencies.

In June 2023, the Telegraph reported a cyber attack hitting the European Investment Bank (EIB). The suspicion was that this was orchestrated by Russian hackers, as there had been threats to bring down the Western financial system days before the attack. The Telegraph article can be found here and makes interesting reading.


The Cybersecurity Landscape for Banks

The financial industry, including banks, is crucial in the global economy, making it an attractive target for cybercriminals. As banks migrate critical services to the cloud and adopt Software as a Service (SaaS), they must continue to adapt their security strategies accordingly.

Lesson 1: Robust Physical Security

Physical security is the first line of defence against cyberattacks. Secure facilities, stringent access controls, and state-of-the-art CCTV surveillance are paramount to prevent unauthorised access to critical infrastructure.

Lesson 2: Reinforce Software-Based Security Measures

In an era where cloud storage is prevalent, banks must prioritise software-based security measures. Safeguarding data and applications in the cloud is vital to thwart potential breaches and maintain customer trust.

Lesson 3: Data is King – Understand it, Protect It!

Understanding the data you hold, its location, and who has access to it are fundamental to risk management. Hoarding large pools of unsecured data is a perilous practice that exposes banks to severe vulnerabilities.

Lesson 4: Know What and When to Report

In the event of a data breach, banks must be prepared to act swiftly. Personal data breaches must be reported to the relevant authorities, such as the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) in the UK, within 72 hours unless there is no risk to individuals' rights and freedom.


Fortifying the Cloud

In the evolving landscape of technology, the cloud has emerged as a game-changer, revolutionising how banks operate. Embracing this technology comes with a wealth of opportunities, but it also brings forth new challenges. As banks increasingly adopt cloud-based systems, they find themselves in the crosshairs of cybercriminals, just like they were during the early days of Internet banking portals.


A Cloud of Uncertainty

The allure of the cloud lies in its convenience, scalability, and cost-effectiveness. However, cybercriminals see it as an irresistible target. To stay one step ahead in this digital battleground, banks must wield the power of robust cybersecurity, not just on-premises but also within the cloud.


Locking down the cloud

Securing cloud-based systems is not a luxury; it's an absolute necessity. Banks and vendors alike must ensure that their cloud security matches or surpasses the protection they have for their traditional systems. This means fortifying defences with ironclad access controls, bulletproof data encryption, and other measures to thwart unauthorised access.


Final Thoughts: Vigilance is Key

The Capita incident serves as a wake-up call to the entire financial industry. Cybersecurity is not a one-time effort but an ongoing commitment to staying ahead of evolving threats. By strengthening security capabilities and adhering to data protection best practices, banks can bolster their resilience against cyberattacks and protect their clients from potential harm.

This is a reminder that no institution is impervious to cyber threats, no matter how large or how small. The time to act is now, as the cost of inaction can be far greater than the investment in cybersecurity measures. The future of banking depends on a united front between banks and vendors against cybercriminals, safeguarding customers and the markets' financial stability and trust worldwide.

If you're navigating the complexities of moving critical systems to the cloud or grappling with data concerns, contact us today to explore how we can provide assistance and support.