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According to the latest Kaspersky Labs report, financial institutions have had approximately $1 billion (£648 million) stolen in the cyber attacks starting in 2013 and are still ongoing. The report identifies a cybercriminal group named “Carbanak” consisting of members from Russia, Ukraine, and China. Carbanak is also suspected as the group behind for the major retail breaches with Bebe Stores, Sheplers, and Staples. Carbanak leveraged well-known vulnerabilities in Microsoft Office in nearly all of their attacks against financial institutions. The average attack was carried out over a period of 2 to 4 months, entailed a 100+ compromised internal systems, and resulted in up to $10 million in stolen financial assets.

 

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Image: Kaspersky Labs Report

 

“Advanced control and fraud detection systems have been used for years by the financial services industry (…) However, these focus on fraudulent transactions within customer accounts. The Carbanak attackers bypassed these protections, by for example, using the industry-wide funds transfer (the SWIFT network), updating balances of account holders and using disbursement mechanisms (the ATM network). In neither of these cases did the attackers exploit a vulnerability within the service. Instead, they studied the victim´s internal procedures and pinpointed who they should impersonate locally in order to process fraudulent transactions through the aforementioned services. It is clear that the attackers were very familiar with financial services software and networks (…)”

The Kaspersky Labs Report

 

The big take away from this report is that spear phishing attacks and old exploits (for which patches have already been released) remain effective against medium to large sized companies. Most businesses are simply not set up to defeat skilled attackers as most their cybersecurity is built around compliance or to put it more simply, to combat auditors and regulators. To sufficiently protect competitive customer advantages and shareholder values, businesses must adapt their approach to cybersecurity to keep pace. In our experience at CyberSheath, businesses that take a sustained approach to cybersecurity also take better advantage of the latest innovative technologies in mobile, social media, and cloud, which help a business maintain its competitive edge and drive growth.

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