Not so Hack-tastic: Cyber Scams Cost Banks, and You, Millions

This year may just be deemed the era of the cyber security breach, with scores of online attacks running up millions of dollars in damages to a number of financial institutions. The tactics used range from revenge-focused “hacktivism” to illicit credit card scandals—a variety of scams that emphasize just how important it is to use caution throughout your financial transactions, from the bank to the automated teller machine (ATM) and all the way to your home computer.

Banks are doing what they can to combat cyber thieves, which has become a constant battle as new threats emerge and newer technologies allow hackers several forms of attacks to deliver. Every form of attack from worms to Trojans and other sneaky tactics have been used to crack the security measures of financial groups, and credit card companies across the nation.

Here’s a quick rundown of the latest cyber attacks that have run up millions of dollars in damages for a number of financial institutions and their customers, and even exposed the information of a well-known social media site.

Some of the recent breaches include:

  • July 2013 – $160 million in credit cards: This ambitious credit card hacking scheme made victims of a number of banks, a stock exchange, a large credit card processing company, a number of well known retailers and an airline.
  • June 2013 – $15 million taken from personal bank accounts: A ring of international cybercriminals attempted to steal $15 million from U.S. banking customers by hacking ATMs and major banks chains (including Citibank, PayPal, E-Trade, and JP Morgan Chase). Once inside the internal bank network, the thieves moved funds from personal bank accounts to debit cards.
  • May 2013 – $45 million from nearly 3,000 ATMS: Considered one of the largest hacking heists in New York City history, two men made off with nearly $45 million hacking directly into a US-based credit card processing company. Withdrawals were made from withdrawals 2,904 machines over 10 hours.
  • April 2013 – 7 million credit cards hacked: Nearly 7 million credit card numbers and expiration dates were exposed when servers at Global Payments were breached by hackers. It was later discovered that the data had been illegally accessed for almost two years.
  • February 2013 – $3 million taken from ATMs: Using “skimming” technology hackers recorded data of customers who used ATMs at banks in New York, New Jersey, Illinois, and Wisconsin, taking nearly $3 million from more than 6,000 bank accounts.
  • February 2013 – Anonymous Attacks on bank executives: A group of online activists launched a attack against bank executives. Called Operation Last Resort, the campaign leaked details of more than 4,600 bank executive credentials.

Apparently, our information is not as secure as we’d like to think it is. Not only are we seeing a number of the top financial groups getting attacked by cybercriminals, we’re finding out that some security measures may be a bit behind the rest of the world. According to research in the most recent scandal, American credit card numbers were reported to sell for roughly $10 each, where European card numbers ranged closer to $50, mainly due to the lesser security safeguards on US cards.

We may rely on these giant corporations to put big dollars and manpower into protecting the security of the information we’ve entrusted them with, however, events like this continue to occur in the growing landscape of cybercrime.

So, with all of this in mind, what can measures can you take to protect yourself from cyber thieves looking to nab your valuable data? Here are a few proactive steps that you can take to guard your information and your mobile money:

  • Continuously check bank statements for strange transactions. Make sure to set alerts to notify you of suspicious activity on your accounts, and report any unauthorized activity to your bank immediately.
  • When accessing your bank account from an ATM, try to stick to trusted bank ATMs. And always cover the keypad when entering your pin. If using a non-bank ATM, you should avoid machines in isolated locations, as they are easier to target. Also, give any machine you are about to use a scan for any strange advertisements, or check if the keypads look raised more than usual, or similarly if the machine is sticking out farther than seems normal. These could be signs that a skimming device has been attached to the machine.
  • Make sure the Wi-Fi you are using is secure when logging into bank accounts online, or through an app, on your mobile device. Unprotected signals at the local coffee shop could be swarming with cyber snoopers, all looking to swipe your account information. Also, make sure to secure your personal Wi-Fi for added protection when accessing accounts at home.
  • Change passwords regularly to protect your accounts in the event that your password has been pilfered in the past.
  • Stay ahead of bugs and others security issues on your mobile banking apps by updating them regularly.
  • Install security software to protect you anytime, anywhere. Get protections for every device in your home, from your mobile phone to your desktops and laptops with the McAfee LiveSafe™ service. Secure all usernames and passwords to your favorite sites, lock down sensitive data in a dynamic vault with voice authentication, remotely back up wipe and store all data, enjoy thorough antivirus protection, and browse sites with ease of mind using safe search features.

Stay ahead of threats that can affect your identity and financial security. Be sure to follow us on Twitter @McAfeeConsumer and Facebook.


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Story added 2. August 2013, content source with full text you can find at link above.