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Retirement Planning > Social Security

1 in 4 Malware Attacks Targets Financial Services Firms: Report

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One in four malware attacks last year targeted banks and financial services organizations, according to a report released Monday by IntSights, a threat intelligence company.

The sector suffered more hits than any of the 27 other industries IntSights tracks, the report said.

The report lays out the most common types of attacks and regional trends. In the first quarter, instances of compromised credit cards increased by 212% year over year.

There was also a 129% year-over-year increase in credential leaks after Collections #1–5 were published with more than 2 billion records of login and personal information from around the world.

The list goes on. IntSights observed a 102% increase from a year earlier in malicious applications, including fraudulent mobile banking apps.

The report said cybercriminals made a breakthrough by publicly exposing flaws in SS7, which telecom companies use to coordinate SMS routing, to intercept messages authorizing payments from accounts.

IntSights noted that the hacker hub — said to have facilitated massive credit card fraud and money laundering — was taken down last May after Israel arrested the site’s manager. Undaunted, the cybercriminals reemerged as, according to the report.

According to the report, financial services industry organizations based in developing countries — Latin America, Africa and South Asia — experienced attacks more frequently than developed regions of the world because of a lack of external facing security systems.

“Threat actors are using tactics like social media impersonation, malicious mobile applications and phishing schemes to circumvent corporate networks and leverage organizations’ brands to trick users and run scams,” Hadar Rosenberg, threat intelligence research analyst at IntSights, said in a statement.

“While these tactics are not always direct attacks against a corporate system, they can be incredibly damaging and costly. This is why organizations need to be operating in the external threat environment, monitoring potential threats before they manifest into attacks.”

The report offered five recommendations for more effective cyber threat defense:

  1. Infuse external intelligence into one’s cybersecurity operations
  2. Compliance with government mandates doesn’t ensure security; focusing on risk can bolster security preparedness
  3. Operationalize monitoring and mitigation to respond more quickly
  4. Focus on threats that relate specifically to one’s organization
  5. Never underestimate the power of cybersecurity training.


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