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As a top target for hackers, global investment banks have developed cutting-edge cyber defences, reports Moody’s Investors Service.

The rating agency said that Wall Street’s leading firms are at a high risk of cyberattacks. In particular, the banks’ capital markets businesses “are an appealing target for cybercriminals attempting large-scale theft or launching sophisticated attacks to create operational disruption.”

The banks also house a variety of other “attractive targets,” Moody’s said, including their payment and cash management systems, their high-net-worth clients’ data and their retail banking private client data.

“The impact of a successful cyberattack could be severe,” Moody’s said. “Some attacks are designed to steal money, extort ransoms or steal or manipulate data. Other attacks aim to create significant operational disruption, and some simply to generate negative publicity.”

“Any successful attack is likely to have financial, reputational and regulatory impact,” Moody’s noted.

Amid these threats, Moody’s reported that its analysis found that the top investment banks have developed industry-leading defences.

For instance, it said that the banks have adopted international standards to guard against cyberattacks, are effectively sharing information with other large financial institutions and are benefiting from enhanced regulation in this area.

“[The global investment banks] have invested heavily in enhanced cyber risk monitoring and mitigation capabilities and display advanced cyberreadiness,” Moody’s said, noting that this is evident at both U.S. and European firms.

“Adherence to international cybersecurity standards and compliance with cyber regulation will maintain heightened attention on increasing risks,” it said.

Moody’s also noted that the growing use of cyber insurance “will help mitigate the financial effects of successful attacks, though not the disruptive or reputational impacts.”