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Banks vs. cybercriminals

By David McMillin ·
Saturday, December 15, 2012
Posted: 6 am ET

In a scheme traced to a Russian computer and a hacker who calls himself "vorVzakone," 30 U.S. banks are under the threat of attack by a gang of international computer criminals.

While this may sound like something from a fictional James Bond movie, the plot looks to be very real. According to a white paper issued by security technology company McAfee, the banking industry needs to prepare for an attack that could wipe out hundreds of millions of dollars. The attacks fall under the umbrella of Project Blitzkrieg, and rumors of its authenticity have been swirling for some time. According to McAfee's extensive research, the rumors are true.

"McAfee Labs believes that Project Blitzkrieg is a credible threat to the financial industry and appears to be moving forward as planned," writes Ryan Sherstobitoff, a threats researcher with McAfee Labs.

In fact, it looks as though there already have been at least 300 victims in the U.S.

What can you do to protect yourself? Other than closely monitor your balance to immediately report any stolen funds, not much. This isn't as simple as a hacker uncovering your credit card info and going on a shopping spree. It involves techniques such as so-called victim machine cloning and webinjects. It's up to banks to protect you from these kinds of sophisticated cybercrimes. It's part of the reason that you pay bank fees. Financial institutions have to invest in resources that can fend off these malicious activities, and those resources cost a lot of money.

The banking industry has been under attack this year. Just a few months ago, all of the major U.S. banks suffered massive distributed denial of service attacks that prevented account holders from accessing bank websites. While big banks were the targets of those attacks, Sherstobitoff suggests that this attack could be geared toward small banks, too. He writes that Project Blitzkrieg may target "smaller financial institutions in the hope of exploiting their lack of expertise in dealing with such incidents."

What do you think of the news? Are banks winning the war against cybercriminals?

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December 23, 2012 at 11:32 pm

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December 23, 2012 at 5:26 am

After 30 years in computing, programming mostly for banks, then sales engineer for multi-billion dollar vendors, now homeless primarily due to age discrimination (by the way I was a project manager on the Trident II D5 missile assembly: 12 nukes per missile, 12 missiles per sub.

It is not the fault of the Symantec's of the world, they are just out numbered, and their customers are too stupid to implement corrective procedures. How many times do you here of unencrypted tapes falling out of a Brinks truck? Or, arcane systems from the 1970's. Now take our failed education system as we have become a 3rd world nation. Our schools rank 28th in the world in math, tied with Latvia.

There are 3.1 Billion people in China, who by the way ranks 1st in math. If only 10% were hackers it would equal the population of the US, 310 million.

Die Gelbe Gefahr

Nick S.
December 19, 2012 at 7:50 am

That's what I am talking about Cathy - I bought a starter that was hard to find anywhere else and used my bank card on the internet. A month later, someone tried to put the same transaction through again. My bank caught it and seen it was a duplicated transaction, one difference was that the depositing information of the vendor was suspicious - no need to close account they just did not honor the transaction. And did what they were required to do and rejected the request.

December 19, 2012 at 12:34 am

My crispt bills in my wallet can't be hacked....the change in my pocket can't be hacked....someone will ahve to rob me at gun point before they get my money....hack away at the banks, maybe someday people will realize banks are useless as they have always been

December 18, 2012 at 10:40 pm

Only an idiot would think only Wall St. pays when this kind of thing happens - we all pay. There have been 300 thousand lost jobs in the banking industry in the last 4 years and that doesn't help the economy either. Banks serve a necessary purpose - if they fail you will need to deal with overseas banks.

December 18, 2012 at 8:46 pm

So McAfee, the computer security company who stands to rake in big time money to correct the hacking problem has discovered this? Seems they stand to reap the biggest benefit from the potential breach. Curious.

December 18, 2012 at 8:21 pm


Jim Michie
December 18, 2012 at 7:54 pm

Those greed-driven "too-big-to-jail" bankster and Wall Street felons need to be hacked because a loss of their resources is the only way to get even with what they did to ruin the lives of millions of Americans and cause our historic economic train wreck. Hack away, hackers, hack away!

December 18, 2012 at 7:30 pm

Computer hacking is a serious issue that affects everyone. I believe banks, credit card companies, and schools should continue to take steps to ensure our safety.

December 18, 2012 at 7:28 pm

I own a small Home Improvements company. I received numerous emails offing my company jobs, mostly cleaning and moving work. The scamers would send me checks drawn off company accounts and sometimes even cashier checks. Along with the checks they would add extra funds that they asked me to wire to some one else for services they were also providing. All of theses checks were fraudulent and I received charges for the first check I deposited. Then I started calling the company the checks from. I called the banks which most of the time was US Bank and the bank told me the accounts and the checks were good and I could deposit or cash them. When I called the actual company i would speak with owners that were frustrated about the flow of bad checks they were dealing with. I found it very discomforting that the bank would be aware of the check scams and still ok and actualy keep cashing the bad checks.