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What Financial Firms Need to Know About Advanced Threat Detection (ATD)

Cyber threats are becoming more sophisticated in 2024, and financial services firms can be certain their organizations are in the crosshairs. Roughly 19% of 2022 cyberattacks worldwide targeted the finance and insurance sector, second only to manufacturing, Statista reports. That means finance and insurance firms suffered more attacks than the media & telecommunications, transportation, government, and healthcare industries combined.

Advanced threat detection (ATD) systems, coupled with AI-powered security solutions, will be essential to securing the future of financial services firms. Financial firms that prioritize ATD are in a better position to prevent attacks before they occur, vastly reducing the complexity and risk of modern threats.

In this article, we explore opportunities associated with ATD as the threats against financial firms become more sophisticated. We uncover how ATD can supplement other cybersecurity measures and how artificial intelligence (AI) can contribute to its efficacy; we provide recommendations on how financial firms can get the greatest value from their ATD investments as well.

A Clear Business Case for Improving Threat Detection

Cyberattacks on financial firms are not only becoming more costly; they are becoming more devastating in terms of their financial and operational fallout.

The average cost of a financial services data breach in the U.S. was 9.48 million in 2023—an increase from $9.44 million in 2022, according to another Statista report. But also, 63% of financial firms reported an increase in destructive attacks in 2022, according to VMWare’s 2022 Modern Bank Heists Report; the report describes “destructive attacks” as those that are “launched punitively to destroy, disrupt, or degrade victim systems by taking actions such as encrypting files, deleting data, destroying hard drives, terminating connections, or executing malicious code.” In other words, these are attacks of a purely malicious nature, not strictly for financial gain.

The risk is widespread as well. In 2022, the U.S. Federal Reserve identified “significant data gaps” across the financial system that “impede assessing and mitigating cyber vulnerabilities.” This applies to both financial firms and the technology solution providers on which many of them rely. It’s a problem that persists today as firms adopt new technologies: “new financial stability implications may emerge from increasing reliance on technology and reduced redundancy,” the Fed continues.

Defining Advanced Threat Detection in the Age of AI

Advanced Threat Detection (ATD) applications are next-generation security solutions; they often leverage artificial intelligence (AI) to identify and respond to cyber threats in real time. These systems use a combination of machine learning algorithms, behavioral analysis, and threat intelligence to detect both known and unknown attacks.

“ATD acts as a proactive solution, providing a layered security approach that combines multiple advanced technologies to detect and respond to complex and stealthy threats,” as DevX describes. “The main objective of Advanced Threat Detection strategies is to protect organizations from targeted attacks, Advanced Persistent Threats (APTs), and zero-day vulnerabilities, as well as other sophisticated cybercrime tactics, such as phishing and ransomware.”

ATD can provide several capabilities beyond what traditional security measures provide; according to Gartner, these include:

  • “source reputation”: ATD uses various methods to evaluate traffic source reputation; that is, a sender’s history of behavior. Potential sources that apply include IP addresses, web domains, and email addresses.
  • “content inspection”: ATD can inspect content and identify any trends that may require further investigation in real time. Examples of content that apply include files, attachments, and hyperlinks; but also, more complex data and partner-provided assets.
  • “behavioral analysis”: With behavioral analysis, ATD can identify unusual patterns for specific users or devices. Behavioral elements that apply include all forms of communication, not just email.

Additional priorities include:

  • data leakage prevention: With advanced access controls, ATD can prevent unauthorized users from accessing sensitive data. For example, an ATD appliance may use AI algorithms to analyze user behavior and identify potential threats before they occur.
  • document exploit detection: ATD can identify and prevent attacks that use disguised malicious code within documents. Specifically, it can identify zero-day attacks, which exploit previously unknown vulnerabilities.
  • threat intelligence: ATD can be configured to receive information from external threat intelligence sources, such as the National Vulnerability Database.

Now, ATD solutions are evolving from single-function appliances to integrated platforms that deliver a range of security capabilities and leverage AI for real-time decision-making. Escalating the use of AI in advanced threat detection comes at a time when attackers are beginning to leverage AI in their own efforts to evade detection, bypass traditional security measures, and develop more sophisticated and damaging attacks.

Preparing Your Firm for ATD Adoption

No matter your firm’s readiness to adopt an ATD solution today, there are steps you can take now to prepare, then evaluate and ultimately adopt or integrate ATD capabilities in the near term. Indeed, these steps are essential as the threat landscape becomes more complex and volatile. Here are four steps you can put into motion now to get your firm on the right track.

  1. Conduct a Security Risk Assessment: A thorough assessment of your firm’s security posture can identify potential vulnerabilities, prioritize risks, and provide valuable guidance on the most effective ATD solution for your specific needs. The right cybersecurity and technology consultant can help by analyzing and then providing recommendations on how to mitigate those risks.
  2. Identify Gaps in Your Existing Security: By identifying your current security gaps, you can determine the specific ATD features and functionality that will provide the most value for your firm. This will enable you to make informed decisions about your ATD investments.
  3. Develop an Integrated Cybersecurity Strategy: An integrated cybersecurity strategy incorporating multiple layers of defense, including advanced threat detection, is key to mitigating risk and protecting your firm’s valuable assets. By developing a comprehensive strategy that integrates ATD with other security measures, you can ensure seamless protection against a wide range of cyber threats. This may include leveraging AI and threat intelligence to enhance the effectiveness of your security operations and stay ahead of constantly evolving threats.
  4. Partner with the Right Technology Provider: Choosing a provider that can offer a comprehensive and integrated ATD solution is crucial. Evaluate potential providers based on their expertise, experience, and ability to understand your unique security needs. Don’t hesitate to ask for references or case studies from similar organizations in your industry.

The Right Way to Protect Your Assets

The toll cyber attacks have taken on the financial services industry and others is daunting. But with the right approach and technology partners, your firm can navigate this complex landscape; you can bolster your defenses and turn the tide against cyber threats to secure a safer future.

Partner with Option One Technologies for ATD Adoption

Option One Technologies is a proven leader in providing robust, integrated cybersecurity solutions that can be tailored to the unique needs of your firm.  Contact us today to learn more about how our solutions can protect your assets and mitigate the industry’s leading security risks.