Russian security firm Kaspersky has just released details of an elaborate, multi-year, multi-country heist that netted hundreds of millions for the group orchestrating the crime. Rather than a series of spectacularly violent bank robberies, this campaign played out quietly and slowly on the technology infrastructure of over 100 financial institutions in 30 different countries. Unfortunately for us, Kaspersky and the banking industry are keeping specific names out of the public spotlight, as expected. It can be assumed that the organizations involved don’t want to damage their reputations, and authorities typically refuse to comment on onging investigations. How did the criminals gain such unprecedented access? Simple malware campaigns targeting employees and officials, which eventually led to a fully compromised infrastructure that allowed the criminals to quietly funnel away millions and leave very few traces behind.
What this means for you:
It may sound a bit cliched to trot out the saying, “There are 2 types of companies, ones that have been hacked, and ones that have been hacked and don’t know it,” but in this case, the criminals were able to steal vast amounts of money by staying well under the radar, an approach that is at direct odds with the normally disruptive and in-your-face style of malware and hacking many people have encountered previously. By lurking quietly in the background, the criminals gained complete familiarity with organizational procedures and employee habits, allowing them to digitally impersonate privileged officials and processes to move money around and out of the organization with impunity. Without a smoking gun, shell casings, fingerprints or DNA evidence, the only trail authorities could follow was the money one – a trail that was obfuscated by digital sleight-of-hand and spoofed internet addresses. Even though your organization may not be targeted for this kind of heist, there are many other types of data cybercriminals value, and it’s in their best interest to not get caught. Don’t look for the obvious malware symptoms – those types of attacks are analogous to vandalism and random, impersonal pollution. The real cyberattack you need to worry about is the one you can’t see.
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Several prominent multinational banks suffered website and online banking service disruptions over the previous two weeks as the result of focused and highly sophisticated cyber attacks. Apparently led by Middle-Eastern “Hackivists” groups in response to the “Innocence of Muslims” YouTube video controversy, researchers have indicated that unlike attacks seen in previous years, this series of attacks were well planned, highly organized and of sufficient force to have even taken down hardened and secure telecom companies who are well-versed in handling the Denial of Service attacks that are typically experienced. In these most recent attacks, the hacktivists used zombified user PC’s as well as thousands of compromised webservers to shut down bank websites for hours, and sometimes days at a time.
What this means for you:
Zombified PC’s are no good to their handlers if they are detected and sanitized before they can be “rented” out, and as such, the most effective malware infection is often one that exists quietly on your technology until it is called into service. Obviously, this could result in your computers or servers, previously well-behaved and performing normally, suddenly acting up and running slowly, usually at the most inconvenient time for you and your business. Always make sure your anti-malware software is installed, updated and working properly.
Keep in mind that it’s even possible for website engines to become compromised and used as a zombie. Unless you tend to your site regularly, it’s possible for it to become compromised without you even noticing – that is until a customer visits your website, notices something wrong, and takes the time to report it to you instead of moving on to something else. Not sure if your computers or servers are secure? Give C2 a call and let us put your mind (and business) at ease!
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net