Risking money in digitalized transaction breach: The modern way of pick-pocketing

A Stepping stone for society – thrive with digitalized transactions

Digitalized transactions have created a solid base for today society’s standards of convenience in performing financial activities. Modern payment solutions have freed consumers’ minds from the hassles of physical cash and its risks, providing accessibility to payment channels for educational resources, healthcare consultations regardless of their geographical barriers. It also facilitates the growth of the market since it allows fast transactions between product distributors and consumers. It also facilitates entrepreneurs and talents to thrive in their own ways, so they do not have to stick to an exact location to be able to perform their tasks. 

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New start ups can have a whole team formed by members from all around the globe without the difficulty of relocation, from fulltime remote employees to remote freelancers, which benefits the employment field when the job opportunities are expanding and effectively serve the market’s needs. Digitalized transactions also play a big role in enabling the growth of business-customer relationship, small businesses are helped a lot by the smooth process of payment, tracking and analyzing of these transactions, while customers can have their experiences enhanced by the fast and easy shopping journey.

The development of fintech is one of the stepping stones driving and boosting its speed in the evolutions of this digi-world with human-centered advance innovations in data analytics, cybersecurity, and artificial intelligence fostering a broader ecosystem of technological and digital literacy. Combined with its social integration across the world, digitalized transactions are able to support crisis resilience and disaster relief as a lifeline during crises and natural disasters. They enable swift and secure donation and crowdfunding mechanisms, facilitating rapid relief efforts and aid distribution, ensuring support reaches affected communities efficiently.

Person purchases with their card through an online shopping gateway

Digitalized transactions remove some risks, but create other ones

Although digitalized transactions help significantly reduce the reliance on physical cash, mitigating risks associated with carrying large sums of money such as fake bank notes, theft and loss, etc, the digitized version of it still can bear the risks of cybersecurity threats.

One of the primary risks posed by digitalized transactions is cybersecurity threats. Online transactions are susceptible to hacking, phishing attacks, and data breaches, potentially compromising personal and financial data. Cybercriminals continually evolve their tactics, targeting weaknesses in systems to gain unauthorized access, highlighting the critical need for comprehensive cybersecurity protocols and constant vigilance.

Illustration of security in digitalized transaction

Moreover, digitalized transactions can lead to increased instances of fraud, including identity theft and unauthorized transactions. Despite advanced security measures, fraudsters devise sophisticated methods to exploit vulnerabilities in systems or manipulate individuals into disclosing sensitive information. This necessitates continuous monitoring, stringent authentication methods, and user education to combat fraudulent activities effectively.

The prevalence of digitalized transactions also raises concerns about privacy. The collection and utilization of vast amounts of consumer data for transactional analysis and personalized services raise questions about data privacy and potential misuse. Striking a balance between leveraging data insights for tailored services while respecting user privacy becomes paramount in the digital transaction landscape.

Additionally, reliance on digitalized transactions introduces operational risks, including system outages, technical failures, or network disruptions. Such instances can impede transaction processing, causing inconvenience to users and businesses alike. Redundancy measures, regular system maintenance, and contingency plans are crucial to mitigate the impact of operational disruptions.

History of cyber attacks – the real threats for digitalized transactions

Throughout the history of fintech, a series of significant cyber attacks has targeted various sectors within the industry, posing threats to financial stability, user data security, and trust in digitalized transactions.

Illustration of a hacked system

CardSystems Solutions cyber attack

In the early 2000s, as digital financial services expanded, cyber attacks on fintech entities emerged. In 2005, CardSystems Solutions, a payment processing firm, suffered a significant breach. Hackers infiltrated their systems, compromising sensitive financial data, including millions of credit card records and personal details like cardholder names and account numbers.

The Target’s breach in 2013

The evolution of fintech cyber attacks advanced with sophisticated hacking techniques. In 2013, Target Corporation faced a substantial breach, compromising 40 million credit and debit card records through implanted malware in payment terminals. This infiltration exposed customers’ sensitive financial data, spotlighting large retailers’ vulnerability to cyber threats in fintech.

Illustration of an attack aiming for users’ information

JPMorgan Chase’s case in 2014

In subsequent years, cyber attacks persisted, impacting major institutions. JPMorgan Chase encountered a significant cyber attack in 2014, impacting more than 83 million customer accounts. The breach revealed sensitive details such as names, addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses. Although the attackers didn’t obtain account numbers or passwords, the incident spurred considerable apprehension regarding the security of banking systems and safeguarding customer data.

147 million consumers’ information exposed in the Equifax breach in 2017

The 2017 Equifax breach stands as another pivotal moment, affecting around 147 million consumers by exploiting vulnerabilities in Equifax’s system. As a prominent credit reporting agency, Equifax’s storage system contains consumer’s most sensitive information, the breach had exposed extensive confidential data (including Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses, and in some cases, driver’s license numbers), raising grave concerns about identity theft and financial security for affected individuals.

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Ransomware attack on Travelex’s network in 2020

More recently, ransomware attacks have surged, notably impacting financial institutions and fintech companies. For instance, the 2020 attack on Travelex, a major currency exchange entity, resulted in significant operational disruptions. Cyber attackers infiltrated Travelex’s network, deploying ransomware that encrypted critical systems, leading to a shutdown of online services across multiple countries. Demanding a $6 million ransom to restore systems, the attack disrupted Travelex’s foreign exchange services, causing substantial operational, financial, and reputational repercussions.

The 2021 Colonial Pipeline ransomware attack

The Colonial Pipeline ransomware attack in 2021 further heightened concerns, causing a temporary shutdown of its operations, as a vital fuel distributor in the USA, this attack not only cost the company approximately $4.4 million but also its reputation in the industry. Cyber attackers exploited vulnerabilities in the company’s systems, encrypting critical data and demanding ransom payment. The attack disrupted fuel supply to the East Coast, impacting millions and raising concerns about infrastructure vulnerabilities. Colonial Pipeline’s response involved shutting down systems to contain the breach, resulting in fuel shortages and logistical challenges. 

The evolution of cyber attacks in fintech has highlighted the urgency for fortified cybersecurity measures. These incidents have spurred an industry-wide call for stricter security protocols across banking, fintech, and energy sectors. Emphasizing the need for swift incident responses and proactive data protection, they serve as a reminder of the essentiality to safeguard financial systems and user data against emerging cyber risks in the digital landscape.

Illustration for a system in breach risk

Loopholes in digitalized transactions that benefit cyber attacks

Several vulnerabilities within the fintech sector can inadvertently aid cyber attacks, especially for digitalized transaction platforms:

Inadequate Authentication Methods: Insufficient or weak authentication measures, such as relying solely on passwords without multifactor authentication, create avenues for unauthorized access to critical financial systems or user accounts.

Outdated Software and Infrastructure: Fintech firms utilizing obsolete software or systems lacking regular updates and patches may harbor known vulnerabilities. Exploiting these weaknesses enables cyber attackers to breach systems more effortlessly.

Hacker mask with system codes in the background

Lack of Comprehensive Employee Training: Inadequate cybersecurity training for staff can lead to human errors or oversights, inadvertently offering opportunities for cyber attackers to penetrate systems using social engineering tactics like phishing emails or manipulation.

Risks from Third-Party Integration: Collaborations with various third-party service providers or integrating external applications into fintech systems can introduce vulnerabilities. Insecure APIs or inadequately assessed third-party partnerships might create loopholes exploitable by attackers to access sensitive data.

IMT Solutions builds the safest digitalize transaction systems for your business

Data Privacy and Storage Practices: Subpar data encryption or storage practices within fintech systems expose sensitive customer information to risk. Feeble encryption or mishandling data may lead to leaks or breaches, offering openings for cyber attacks.

Navigating Complex Regulatory Requirements: The intricate and diverse regulatory landscape across regions can create opportunities for cyber attackers. Inconsistencies or gaps in regulatory standards might be exploited to breach systems across jurisdictions.

Fast-Paced Innovation and Deployment: Fintech’s swift innovation and deployment may prioritize speed over security. Hastily launched products or quick updates without adequate security testing might leave vulnerabilities unattended, heightening susceptibility to attacks.

Mitigating these vulnerabilities necessitates a holistic approach encompassing robust cybersecurity protocols, routine system audits, continuous employee training, strict compliance with regulatory standards, and a proactive stance in identifying and addressing potential risks within fintech systems.

Let IMT Solutions build your business the safest digitalized transaction systems

IMT Solutions was built by a team of IT experts and has been operating for more than 15 years with the main delivery method of comprehensive multi-site and agile models, which is ISO-27001 certified. Our works have been trusted by various enterprises, financial institutions and government projects from all around the globe for their effectiveness and safeness. Our experts understand the mechanism of online transaction attacks thoroughly, and that’s how we are going to build your solution – actively reducing the risks in digitalized transaction systems from the start with a strongly built system and continuously updating it for the safest protocols. Working with IMT Solutions, you can relax and focus on your own expertise, our solutions have got you covered.

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