Akamai Technologies, Inc. today published the Akamai 2020 State of the Internet / Security: Financial Services – Hostile Takeover Attempts report. The research findings reveal that from May 2019 and continuing on until the end of the year, there was a dramatic shift by criminals who started targeting APIs, in an effort to bypass security controls. According to data from Akamai, up to 75% of all credential abuse attacks against the financial services industry targeted APIs directly.
According to the report’s findings, from December 2017 through November 2019, Akamai observed 85,422,079,109 credential abuse attacks. Nearly 20 per cent, or 16,557,875,875, were against hostnames that were clearly identified as API endpoints. Of these, 473,518,955 attacked organizations in the financial services industry.
But not all attacks were exclusively API focused. On August 7, 2019, Akamai recorded the single largest credential stuffing attack against a financial services firm, in our company's history, consisting of 55,141,782 malicious login attempts. This attack was a mix of API targeting, and other methodologies. On August 25, in a separate incident, the criminals targeted APIs directly, in a run that consisted of more than 19 million credential abuse attacks.
Indicative of this fluid attack dynamic, the report shows that criminals continue to seek to expose data through a number of methods, in order to gain a stronger foothold on the server and ultimately achieve success in their attempts.
SQL Injection (SQLi) accounted for more than 72% of all attacks when looking at all verticals during the 24-month period observed by the report. That rate is halved to 36% when looking at financial services attacks alone. The top attack type against the financial services sector was Local File Inclusion (LFI), with 47% of observed traffic.
The report also shows that criminals continue to leverage Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks as a core component of their attack arsenal, particularly as it relates to targeting financial services organizations. Akamai’s observations from November 2017 until October 2019, show the financial services industry ranking third in attack volume, with gaming and high tech being the most common targets. However, more than forty percent of the unique DDoS targets were in the financial services industry, which makes this sector the top target when considering unique victims.