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fighting cyberattacks cybersecurity richard carberry

When you hear about a billion dollar bank heist, maybe you picture a scene from an old Western, with masked robbers shooting guns in the air and carrying off duffel bags of cash. Or perhaps it’s more like “Ocean’s Eleven,” with slick con men using stolen access codes and EMP devices to access the vault, while a trained gymnast does cartwheels to avoid laser beams. Either way, they used old technology.

Sadly, a byproduct of today’s high-tech world is that stealing money is becoming easier, as evidenced by the Carbanak heist earlier this year. In that one attack, 100 financial institutions in 30 different countries were robbed of an estimated $1 billion. It didn’t take guns, it didn’t take drills and it didn’t take acrobatics. All it took was unaware employees who opened attachments in malicious emails.

The emails were sent as part of a spear phishing campaign directed at financial institution employees, in which thieves used information they’d collected from social engineering to create a legitimate looking message. The emails included an attachment containing malware that installed itself on the victim’s computer. Once in control of the infected machine, the robbers explored the bank’s internal networks and Internet banking platforms, learning how to access financial systems with key loggers and screenshots. Then it simply became a matter of draining funds by setting up fake accounts, executing a transfer or sending a remote command to an ATM machine.

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