What Are Cyber-Physical Attacks? | Compyl

January 24, 2024

What Are Cyber-Physical Attacks?

The financial services industry constantly runs the risk of physical and cyber-attacks. Dealing with money certainly isn’t a game. The global economy and financial security are at stake, and even more so as the world becomes more digitized. One of the most prominent threats nowadays is cyber-physical attacks.

What Are Cyber-Physical Attacks? Compyl

Definition of Cyber-Physical Attacks

What is a cyber-physical attack?Sophisticated assaultscompromise information systems and infrastructure with digital and tangible elements. These attacks try to exploit the vulnerabilities of the financial sector both online and physically. There are many types of attacks, from ransomware to attacks on critical infrastructure like power grids. 

If someone hacks into a bank’s digital network, they can change financial data. They could also disable a security system or shut off power. These elements, when used together, put financial institutions and businesses at an extreme level of risk.

The Motivation Behind Cyber Attacks

The finance industry is like a mine, full of valuable data, information, and assets. This makes it a prime target for criminals who are looking to make money or disrupt the market. By disrupting both the physical and digital barriers put in place to protect these valuables, attackers hope to wreak havoc or make themselves rich. These attacks can occur for a number of reasons, including ideological motivations, cyber warfare, or financial extortion.

The Impact of Cyber-Physical Attacks on Businesses and the Finance Industry

Today, the financial industry has digitized to a large extent. This is in part for convenience and also due to globalization. Customers need and want their finances at their fingertips, and international businesses coordinate much more easily with digital infrastructure. 

However, this convenience also comes with a price. Once one business experiences a cyber-physical breach, a domino effect can occur, spreading to other organizations. These attacks halt operations, disrupt financial transactions and customer service, and impact client trust and brand reputation.

If a breach is large enough, it can eventually extend to have effects on the entire financial system of a country or internationally.

Why the Finance Service Industry Is So Vulnerable

Financial institutions are data-centric. Their digital systems contain sensitive information like account numbers, Social Security numbers, names, birthdates, and credit card numbers. Companies with legacy systems or out-of-date cybersecurity measures put their clients and other financial institutions at risk, as these systems lack the tools and ability to block malicious attacks.

At the same time, rapid innovation and the latest technology make the financial sector digitally vulnerable, as unforeseen holes and weaknesses appear. Many businesses also usethird-party vendorsor partners, adding weak points and more areas for criminals to attack.

Even employees are a risk for financial institutions, as they can intentionally or unintentionally cause security breaches or fall victim to cyber attack tactics.

How To Prevent Cyber-Physical Attacks

Mitigating these combined attacks requires a multi-faceted approach, both to prevent and to stop them. When they do occur, financial institutions need to have a harmonized response of digital and physical defense strategies. An adequate security plan includes security frameworks, risk assessments, advanced technologies, compliance services, employee training, and information sharing.

1. Integrated Frameworks

Companies should work to unify and integrate physical security protocols and cybersecurity measures to fight against a cyber-physical attack. These are the backbone of an effective security strategy. 

Digital measures such as encryption, intrusion detection, and firewalls are essential and work best when integrated with surveillance cameras, access control protocols, and biometric authentication systems. These types of systems complement each other. For example, if the digital security system detects an unauthorized attempt, that can be set to trigger a physical response such as activation of surveillance or the lockdown of access points.

2. Constant Risk Assessments

Businesses should continuously work to identify threats and vulnerable areas in their digital and physical infrastructure. Cyber attacks and technology constantly change, making this step essential to mitigating threats. 

3. The Use of Advanced Technologies and Compliance Services

Artificial intelligence, advanced analytics, and machine learning are just a few cutting-edge technologies that can help with threat detection and faster responses during cyber-physical attacks. They can provide analysis and insights in real time and help security systems target threats quicker and with greater accuracy.

Compliance services and information security solutions are an excellent way to ensure that digital security systems comply with state and federal laws and truly are keeping clients’ data secure. The right solutions can help identify vulnerabilities in cyber defense systems, plan for cyber incidents, integrate physical and digital solutions, perform penetration testing, manage vendor and supply chain security, and create security trails for post-incident analysis.

4. Employee Training

Fostering an environment of awareness about cyber security and physical security measures means educating employees about social engineering tactics and other possible threats. In essence, employees are a human firewall and with proper training can help avoid many instances of cyber attacks. 

Managers should train employees on phishing, baiting, and pretexting, and teach them how to recognize suspicious links, requests, and emails. They also need to be up to date on secure access protocols, including multi-factor authentication, how to properly handle access credentials, and how to create strong passwords. In addition, companies should create clear channels for reporting incidents and suspicions and keep employees in the loop on how to use these.

5. Information Sharing

Collaboration and information-sharing networks can be useful for businesses in the financial services industry to help each other learn how to best anticipate and stop cyber-physical attacks. Working together can bring favorable results and keep the industry more secure overall.

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Cyber-Physical Attacks

Protecting your business against cyber-physical attacks is no easy feat but is essential for both your physical and financial security and the security of your client’s personal information and money. To learn more about how you can mitigate these types of attacks, or if you are looking for help creating stronger information security protocols, Compyl is here for you. Request a free demo of our compliance and information security solutionson our website.

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