As larger firms become a continually difficult target to breach, threat actors are looking at opportunities worth pursuing, with less layers of security or complexity, to navigate through in pursuit of valuable information.
One such arena is PE Houses and their portfolios who are likely holding significant financial data, with easier routes into other organisations they’re working with.
Here we take a closer look at the threat landscape of Private Equity and the steps these organisations should take to mitigate their risk, advance their maturity and ensure they and affiliates are applying the right technologies and policies to enable their growth and reduce their overall risk profile.
What are the key cyber security threats facing Private Equity firms?
Phishing attacks: With the level of contact and emails in transit between the PE House and their portfolio, the potential for a threat actor to position themselves in the chain and encourage users to access files which can lead to a large scale compromise of valuable data, cannot be understated.
Ransomware attacks: Linked to phishing attacks, if users access files containing zero-day threats or modified malware signatories, the immediate impact on the infected machine and, as the ransomware spreads, affiliated accounts on the network, operations can grind to a halt within minutes, preventing critical activities from being executed whilst potentially providing a hacker with highly commercially sensitive information.
Data breaches: Given the sensitive nature of the industry, a data breach can prove costly across a number of key measures – financial, commercial, reputational and legal. Depending on the nature and timing of the data accessed, the knock-on effect to potential investments or acquisitions is clear. If the digital environment of the breached subject is deemed to be insecure, the validity of any recommendation provided by the PE house will likely be called into question.
What actions should PE Houses take to keep themselves secure?
Private equity firms should take several actions to avoid cyber attacks, including:
Application of multi-factor authentication (MFA) supplemented by strong password policy enforcement for access to all systems.
Security awareness training to ensure staff are alert to threats and understand the correct steps to take when receiving communications with potentially malicious intentions.
Ensure the software the organisation relies on is patched regularly, underpinned by a policy governing all infrastructure and applications.
Ensure sensitive data is always encrypted when in transit and that proportionate, risk-based policies are applied as part of business as usual to help prevent users being exploited by malicious attacks.
Conduct regular penetration testing to ensure a “hacker view” of the estate remains sound and appropriate security measures are in place to prevent common threat activities from being executed.
Consider Security Operation Centre (SOC) services to ensure 24/7 monitoring of the digital environment so that anything suspicious is identified, isolated and remediated at pace before it manifests into something more sinister for the firm and their portfolio.
Want to find out more about the value in securing your portfolio?
For more information on how Amicis are safeguarding the Private Equity industry from the partners to their portfolios, please visit www.amicisgroup.co.uk or email email@example.com for a conversation.
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