Cyber Siege: How DDoS Attacks Are Crippling Europe's Financial Services

by Damian Chmiel
  • Cyberattacks on Europe's financial services have more than doubled in 2023.
  • DDoS attacks are zeroing in on the financial sector, making it a target for cybercriminals.
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If you work in the financial services industry, cyberattacks should become a serious concern for you. A recent report by Akamai Technologies revealed a concerning escalation in cyberattacks targeting the financial sector, especially in Europe.

The study, entitled "The High Stakes of Innovation: Attack Trends in Financial Services", shows that the industry has become the third-most attacked in the Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) region, experiencing a year-over-year increase of 119% in web application and API attacks. Unfortunately, the industry takes the top spot when it comes to DDoS attacks.

Financial Companies Become Prime Target for Cybercriminals

In the case of attacks on web applications and APIs, the financial industry is ranked third, accounting for over 16% of all attacks. The commerce sector lead with 34%, followed by high technology at 22%.

However, a significant increase in the number of attacks in the financial services industry was observed in the 18-month reporting period from January 2022 to June 2023. For example, there was a year-over-year increase of 65% in the number of attacks on web applications and APIs between Q2 2022 and Q2 2023.

Akamai

When it comes to web app and API attacks, fraudsters most often targeted banking (58%), insurance (14%), and other financial services (28%). Banks are highly vulnerable to network attacks due to the nature of the data they hold.

"As cybercriminals continue to follow the money, financial services remains a hugely attractive target. At the same, this is one of the most regulated sectors and hence it is essential for companies to align their security strategy with emerging laws and regulations," said Richard Meeus, the Director of Security Technology and Strategy for EMEA at Akamai.

Speaking of distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks, which are still among the easiest and most common, the financial industry is unfortunately attacked most frequently. Nearly 30% of all DDoS attacks from January 2022 to June 2023 targeted financial services, followed by gaming at just under 26% and modern technologies at 18%.

Akamai

We don't have to look far for examples. At the beginning of September, the German financial market regulator BaFin fell victim to a cyberattack. During the summer, Finance Magnates exclusively reported on what a DDoS attack carried out on FXStreet, a well-known FX market website, looked like.

The report also noted that Q2 2023 saw a record increase in the number of DDoS attacks in the financial industry. The number of identified attacks exceeded 600, nearly three times more than in the same period a year earlier.

Akamai

"DDoS attacks have long been considered to be one of the most powerful weapons on the internet. They can lead to huge amounts of service interruptions and large financial losses, impact just about any part of a network's resources or operations, and occur at any time," the report read.

A separate study from 2023 showed that one of the most frequently attacked countries in Europe In the form of application-layer DDoS attacks is Cyprus. The country hosts a large number of financial companies and retail FX/CFD brokers.

Cyprus DDos

"Forex Brokers are one of the most attractive targets of attackers. Not only because their business depends almost solely on the availability of their customer portals but because their end customers are very demanding and sensitive when it comes to the availability of those portals and do not tolerate disruptive events so well. Furthermore, Forex Brokers are known to be wealthy organizations, making perfect sense for an attacker to focus on them," commented Mate Ivanszkey, the CEO of Matworks.

EMEA Doubles the Number of DDoS Attacks

EMEA leads the world in the number of DDoS attack events, with 63.5% of global attacks. The United Kingdom and Germany are the most affected countries within the region, contributing to 29.2% and 15.1% of DDoS attacks, respectively. Akamai suggested that the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine is a significant factor behind the surge in attacks on European financial institutions allied with Ukraine.

"The concentration of DDoS in the Europe, Middle East, and Africa region points to the use of DDoS as a tool of politics, hacktivism, and cyber warfare," stated Teresa Walsh, the Global Head Of Intelligence at Akamai.

DDoS attacks on the financial sector in EMEA have increased 40% year-over-year. In the meantime, EMEA's gambling, commerce, and manufacturing sectors face a high number of DDoS attacks, exceeding all other regions combined.

If you work in the financial services industry, cyberattacks should become a serious concern for you. A recent report by Akamai Technologies revealed a concerning escalation in cyberattacks targeting the financial sector, especially in Europe.

The study, entitled "The High Stakes of Innovation: Attack Trends in Financial Services", shows that the industry has become the third-most attacked in the Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) region, experiencing a year-over-year increase of 119% in web application and API attacks. Unfortunately, the industry takes the top spot when it comes to DDoS attacks.

Financial Companies Become Prime Target for Cybercriminals

In the case of attacks on web applications and APIs, the financial industry is ranked third, accounting for over 16% of all attacks. The commerce sector lead with 34%, followed by high technology at 22%.

However, a significant increase in the number of attacks in the financial services industry was observed in the 18-month reporting period from January 2022 to June 2023. For example, there was a year-over-year increase of 65% in the number of attacks on web applications and APIs between Q2 2022 and Q2 2023.

Akamai

When it comes to web app and API attacks, fraudsters most often targeted banking (58%), insurance (14%), and other financial services (28%). Banks are highly vulnerable to network attacks due to the nature of the data they hold.

"As cybercriminals continue to follow the money, financial services remains a hugely attractive target. At the same, this is one of the most regulated sectors and hence it is essential for companies to align their security strategy with emerging laws and regulations," said Richard Meeus, the Director of Security Technology and Strategy for EMEA at Akamai.

Speaking of distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks, which are still among the easiest and most common, the financial industry is unfortunately attacked most frequently. Nearly 30% of all DDoS attacks from January 2022 to June 2023 targeted financial services, followed by gaming at just under 26% and modern technologies at 18%.

Akamai

We don't have to look far for examples. At the beginning of September, the German financial market regulator BaFin fell victim to a cyberattack. During the summer, Finance Magnates exclusively reported on what a DDoS attack carried out on FXStreet, a well-known FX market website, looked like.

The report also noted that Q2 2023 saw a record increase in the number of DDoS attacks in the financial industry. The number of identified attacks exceeded 600, nearly three times more than in the same period a year earlier.

Akamai

"DDoS attacks have long been considered to be one of the most powerful weapons on the internet. They can lead to huge amounts of service interruptions and large financial losses, impact just about any part of a network's resources or operations, and occur at any time," the report read.

A separate study from 2023 showed that one of the most frequently attacked countries in Europe In the form of application-layer DDoS attacks is Cyprus. The country hosts a large number of financial companies and retail FX/CFD brokers.

Cyprus DDos

"Forex Brokers are one of the most attractive targets of attackers. Not only because their business depends almost solely on the availability of their customer portals but because their end customers are very demanding and sensitive when it comes to the availability of those portals and do not tolerate disruptive events so well. Furthermore, Forex Brokers are known to be wealthy organizations, making perfect sense for an attacker to focus on them," commented Mate Ivanszkey, the CEO of Matworks.

EMEA Doubles the Number of DDoS Attacks

EMEA leads the world in the number of DDoS attack events, with 63.5% of global attacks. The United Kingdom and Germany are the most affected countries within the region, contributing to 29.2% and 15.1% of DDoS attacks, respectively. Akamai suggested that the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine is a significant factor behind the surge in attacks on European financial institutions allied with Ukraine.

"The concentration of DDoS in the Europe, Middle East, and Africa region points to the use of DDoS as a tool of politics, hacktivism, and cyber warfare," stated Teresa Walsh, the Global Head Of Intelligence at Akamai.

DDoS attacks on the financial sector in EMEA have increased 40% year-over-year. In the meantime, EMEA's gambling, commerce, and manufacturing sectors face a high number of DDoS attacks, exceeding all other regions combined.

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