During the month of November, researchers at the cybersecurity firm LookingGlass examined the most significant vulnerabilities in the financial services industry in the United States.
The company looked at assets with public internet-facing assets from more than 7 million IP addresses in the industry and discovered that a seven-year-old Remote Code Execution vulnerability affecting Microsoft Windows was at the top of the list.
According to CISA, the “Financial Services Sector includes thousands of depository institutions, providers of investment products, insurance companies, other credit and financing organizations, and the providers of the critical financial utilities and services that support these functions.”
Reports stated that the industry employs about 8 million Americans and contributes $1.5 trillion, or 7.4% of the nation’s overall GDP.
Microsoft Exchange Vulnerabilities
Over 900 times in the financial sector have been affected by a critical remote code execution vulnerability identified as (CVE-2015-1635), affecting Microsoft Windows and it has been around for seven years.
If this vulnerability is exploited successfully, a remote attacker may execute arbitrary code with system privileges and result in a buffer overflow.
The next most often exploited vulnerability was (CVE-2021-31206), which affects Microsoft Exchange Servers. Reports say in the month of November, this vulnerability was exploited 700 times in the financial services industry in the United States.
“Our data holdings attribute roughly 7 million of these to the U.S. financial services sector, which includes insurance companies, rental & leasing companies, and creditors, among other subsectors”, explains LookingGlass researchers.
According to recent reports from the U.S. Department of Treasury, ransomware attacks alone cost U.S. financial institutions close to $1.2 billion in 2021, a nearly 200% increase from the year before.
The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FCEN) of the Treasury identified Russia as the main source of numerous ransomware variants hitting the industry in its study.
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