Feds Point to Escalated Ransomware Attacks on Financial Institutions, Offer Guidance Based on Success Stories


The U.S.
Security and Exchange Commission’s (SEC’s) Office of Compliance Inspections and
Examinations (OCIE) has issued an alert warning of an escalated number of
ransomware attacks on financial institutions.

The office details
its findings in a free PDF and offers advice to targeted infrastructures on how
to bolster their cybersecurity defenses.

“Recent
reports indicate that one or more threat actors have orchestrated phishing and other
campaigns designed to penetrate financial institution networks to, among other
objectives, access internal resources and deploy ransomware,” the document
reads.

“OCIE has
also observed an apparent increase in sophistication of ransomware attacks on
SEC registrants, which include broker-dealers, investment advisers, and
investment companies,” it notes.

According to
the office, those behind the attacks demand ransom to “maintain the integrity
and/or confidentiality of customer data or for the return of control over
registrant systems.”

OCIE has also observed attacks on service providers working with targeted financial institutions. It advises potential targets to monitor alerts published by the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA). The documentation underscores the tactics and techniques employed by threat actors, along with related indicators of compromise (IOCs) and key mitigation strategies.

The office dispenses
further guidance based on success stories seen at organizations with robust
incident response and resiliency policies, procedures and plans.

Operational
resiliency is high on the list of recommendations, as it helps determine which
systems and processes can be restored during a disruption so services can still
be delivered.

Other
highlights include awareness and training programs, vulnerability scanning and
patch management, access management, and perimeter security.