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Report: Net Attackers Target Financial Services Firms

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NU Online News Service, July 3, 3:45 p.m. – Insurers and other financial services companies were the targets of 23% of the Internet threats and malicious Internet activity that Internet Security Systems Inc., Atlanta, recorded between March 26 and June 24.

The Internet security company says financial services companies faced more security incidents during the period than any other companies it tracked. The second most threatened companies, information technology companies, accounted for 18% of the detected incidents.

Internet Security based the statistics, given in the firm’s second-quarter Internet Risk Summary Report, on activity data for 750 firewalls and intrusion detection systems it monitors for its clients, along with incident reports from its clients.

The second-quarter report is the first Internet Security risk report that breaks attack destinations down by industry category, and the firm emphasizes that its client base may not be representative of all commercial U.S. Internet users.

But Internet Security says financial services companies face obvious Internet security threats.

“The financial sector has the most to lose in an online commercial environment,” company analysts write in the latest risk report. “Simply stated, security should be top priority for financial and insurance services.”

Part of the reason financial services and IT companies reported the most trouble was that they are more aware than other industries of the threat posed by hackers and viruses, Internet Security says. But the company says financial and IT companies also make tempting targets because of their prominent online presence.

The most common security incidents that clients reported to Internet Security were attempts at Internet extortion, which affected 27% of the reporting companies.

Other common types of incidents were intrusions by hackers (18%); Internet stalking (18%); network access by disgruntled former employees (10%); theft of intellectual and proprietary information (9%); fraudulent billing, kickbacks and price fixing (9%); and so-called “denial-of-service” attacks, or barrages of hits that disrupted clients’ networks (9%).