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Ransomware Resilience: Navigating Threats in the U.S. Financial Sector

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Ransomware attacks have emerged as a critical and escalating threat to the financial services industry, with the sector experiencing unprecedented impact. Among the most targeted industries, financial services face persistent attacks from ransomware groups, primarily utilising trojans to infiltrate systems and execute encryption protocols.

This cyber threat, characterised by malicious software that encrypts data and extorts payment for decryption, poses a substantial risk to critical services, businesses, and communities globally. Despite its formidable challenges, recent initiatives and advancements in cybersecurity offer a ray of hope in the ongoing battle against ransomware, aiming to enhance resilience and safeguard digital assets.

Recent industry reports highlight the escalating costs of ransomware attacks, averaging around US$1.85 million for companies to recover. This alarming trend is compounded by the fact that 80% of victims who pay the ransom are targeted again, underscoring the persistent nature of this threat and the need for measures.

In response to this growing menace, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) has launched the Ransomware Vulnerability Warning Pilot (RVWP). This initiative aims to reduce risks by directly engaging with federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial governments and critical infrastructure entities. By providing timely notifications and leveraging existing resources and technologies, RVWP helps organisations fortify their networks against ransomware attacks.

A key component of RVWP is the Cyber Hygiene Vulnerability Scanning service, which monitors internet-connected devices for vulnerabilities. Participating organisations have significantly reduced risk and exposure, with many experiencing improvements within the first 90 days. This service is instrumental in identifying and addressing vulnerabilities commonly exploited by ransomware, enhancing overall cybersecurity posture.

In 2023, RVWP issued 1,754 notifications to entities operating vulnerable devices. Of these, 49% of devices were patched, implemented compensating controls, or taken offline following notification from CISA. This demonstrates the effectiveness of RVWP in driving timely mitigation efforts and protecting critical infrastructure.

By hardening networks against known vulnerabilities, RVWP helps disrupt ransomware gang operations, increasing operational costs and deterring future attacks. This collaborative approach and the Cyber Hygiene Vulnerability Scanning service have enabled over 7,600 organisations across all sectors to identify and mitigate over 3 million known vulnerabilities since 2022.

Organisations are encouraged to use the no-cost Cyber Hygiene Vulnerability Scanning service to enhance their cybersecurity posture and reduce business risk. The #StopRansomware Guide also provides valuable insights on responding to ransomware incidents and safeguarding organisations against future attacks.

Previously, as reported by OpenGov Asia, the United States has been actively implementing strategies to tackle ransomware attacks. One of the notable approaches highlighted in the report is the issuance of reports by the G7 Cyber Expert Group (CEG) focused on ransomware and third-party risk within the financial sector.

These reports assist financial entities in comprehending cybersecurity matters better and bolstering their defences against cyber threats. By offering guidance and best practices, these reports enable financial institutions to more effectively mitigate ransomware threats and manage risks associated with third-party services. Furthermore, the collaborative effort of G7 jurisdictions in developing these reports underscores the global commitment to bolstering the financial sector’s resilience against cyber threats.

This year, by partnering with CISA and adopting cybersecurity measures, organisations can protect their digital assets, achieve measurable improvements in cybersecurity, and safeguard their reputation and future.


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