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MSPs that have financial clients in their portfolios could well be forgiven for being a little jittery. Even industry experts were caught off guard by the sudden struggles in the banking sector. One bank sunk due to old-fashioned business practices, and because it was run by customers. For another bank, poor balance sheets became the final straw. Ripple effects were felt in every corner of the tech world.

But what does a bank’s implosion have to do with cybersecurity? Plenty.

“Any time there is change, especially change happening in mass across an industry, attackers look to exploit it,” said one industry observer and others agree.

Experts predict an increase in phishing emails

“Cybercriminals will be circling the blood in the water like hungry sharks,” warns Peter Williams, a fintech and cybersecurity expert in Miami. He says there will almost certainly be an increase in phishing emails that purport to be from banks attempting to get people to verify accounts or withdraw money.

“And while most people won’t fall for it, one or two successes make it worthwhile for the cybercriminal and they’ll get a couple of people to click on their fraudulent links, they always do,” Williams adds.

Banks should provide security training to their employees to ensure they are aware of the latest threats and how to recognize and respond to them. This can include phishing simulations, social engineering training, and regular security awareness campaigns that tie into topical events like bank collapses.

“Of course, MSPs also worry that if a bank fails, that could result in not being paid for services. That’s a risk, though, for any client that might go out of business,” explains Williams. “But if you are feeling nervous about whether a financial firm client will be able to pay or not, you should take proactive and protective steps to reduce exposure, such as making sure accounting is up to date.”

Potential cybersecurity impact varies

In general, Williams says, a bank collapse could have various impacts on cybersecurity, depending on the nature and extent of the collapse. Some potential impacts could include:

Cybersecurity breaches: If a bank collapse results in layoffs, employee unrest, or other internal issues, it could potentially create a situation where insiders or former employees may try to steal or compromise sensitive data or systems. Williams says banks should monitor their systems and networks for unusual activity that may indicate a security breach. This can be done using intrusion detection systems (IDS) and security information as well as event management (SIEM) systems.

Increased risk of fraud and cybercrime: A bank collapse could create a situation where fraudsters and cybercriminals try to take advantage of the confusion and chaos to steal from customers or conduct other illegal activities. MSPs with financial services customers should be on the lookout for DDoS attacks which are especially prone to proliferate during crises. DDoS attacks overwhelm a target website or system with traffic, causing it to crash or become inaccessible. During a chaotic event, such as a major news event or public emergency, websites and systems may be particularly vulnerable to DDoS attacks.

Reduced resources for cybersecurity: If a bank is struggling financially, it may have to cut back on cybersecurity spending or staffing, which could increase the risk of cyber attacks and data breaches. “If the banking ecosystem begins weakening, it may increase the load on MSPs if banks cut their internal staff, with the increasingly strict regulatory environment, there is only so much a bank can cut when it comes to cybersecurity,” Williams warns.

Loss of trust and confidence: A bank collapse could also erode public trust and confidence in the banking system, which could make it more difficult for banks to attract and retain topflight talent in IT departments.

Overall, Williams says, a bank collapse could have a range of potential impacts on cybersecurity, and it is important for banks to have robust cybersecurity measures in place to help prevent, detect, and respond to cyber threats, regardless of their financial situation.

“But the immediate impact of the banking crisis is just the chaos and `fog-of-war’ atmosphere that will envelope financial firms over the weeks ahead and just like any major disruptive news event, cybercriminals will try to prey upon the human weakness elements of it, so in addition to making sure your clients are capitalized, MSPs should be working on fortifying the human element,” Williams explains.

Photo: Miha Creative / Shutterstock

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Kevin Williams

Posted by Kevin Williams

Kevin Williams is a journalist based in Ohio. Williams has written for a variety of publications including the Washington Post, New York Times, USA Today, Wall Street Journal, National Geographic and others. He first wrote about the online world in its nascent stages for the now defunct “Online Access” Magazine in the mid-90s.

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