Menu
Deep cyberattacks cause millions in losses for US banks

Deep cyberattacks cause millions in losses for US banks

A Gartner analyst said hackers used DDoS attacks prior to attacking wire payment applications

At least three U.S. banks have lost millions of dollars after fraudsters gained control of payment applications that control wire transfers.

The attacks, which occurred over the last three months, show that hackers are "moving deeper and deeper into the [banking] systems," Avivah Litan, a Gartner vice president who has frequent confidential discussions with banks on security issues, said Friday. "There's no doubt about it."

Hackers have long targeted individual users, compromising account logins and passwords to execute wire transfers. Money "mules" are recruited to accept the fraudulent money in their own accounts and then transfer it again, often overseas where it can be difficult to recover.

But the latest attacks appear to be much more financially damaging. Litan said she cannot identify the affected banks, and few technical details are available about how the fraudsters accessed the wire payment application, also sometimes referred to as a wire payment switch.

For their payment systems, banks link internally developed software code with vendor payments software using custom interfaces. The wire payment application has access to multiple customer accounts.

To draw attention away from their activities, the banks saw attackers execute distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks prior to the wire transfers taking place, said Litan, who also blogged about the issue recently.

Banks are frequent targets for DDoS attacks, which aim to overwhelm web-based applications with volumes of malicious traffic intended to cause the applications to stop responding.

Wire payment applications are typically highly protected. Only a few bank employees may hold "privileged" account credentials in order to access the systems. Fraudsters may be been able to get inside the bank's network using malicious software, Litan said.

The style of attack, where hackers exploit a weakness and parlay that into wide network access, is often referred to an advanced persistent threat. Banks can help thwart the attacks by slowing down their wire transfer systems if a DDoS attack is underway, Litan said.

"If you're under attack, you lock down a little bit," Litan said. "You don't stop everything, but you make it slower."

Officials at top U.S. banks did not have an immediate comment.

In September 2012, the FBI warned that hackers were targeting financial institution employees with malicious software in order to compromise their accounts. The hackers raised wire transfer limits, initiating overseas transfers that varied between US$400,000 and $900,000.

Send news tips and comments to jeremy_kirk@idg.com. Follow me on Twitter: @jeremy_kirk


Follow Us

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags GartnerintrusionExploits / vulnerabilities

Featured

Slideshows

Reseller News Platinum Club celebrates leading partners in 2019

Reseller News Platinum Club celebrates leading partners in 2019

The leading players of the New Zealand channel came together to celebrate a year of achievement at the annual Reseller News Platinum Club lunch in Auckland. Following the Reseller News Innovation Awards, Platinum Club provides a platform to showcase the top performing partners and start-ups of the past 12 months.

Reseller News Platinum Club celebrates leading partners in 2019
Reseller News hosts alumnae breakfast for Women in ICT Awards

Reseller News hosts alumnae breakfast for Women in ICT Awards

Reseller News hosted its second annual alumnae breakfast for the Women in ICT Awards in New Zealand, designed to showcase the leading female leaders in the industry. Held at The Cordis in Auckland, attendees came together to hear inspiring keynotes and panel discussions, alongside high-level networking among peers. Photos by Gino Demeer.

Reseller News hosts alumnae breakfast for Women in ICT Awards
Reseller News Innovation Awards 2019: meet the winners

Reseller News Innovation Awards 2019: meet the winners

Reseller News honoured the standout players of the New Zealand channel in front of more than 480 technology leaders in Auckland on 23 October, recognising the achievements of top partners, emerging entrants and innovative start-ups.

Reseller News Innovation Awards 2019: meet the winners
Show Comments