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SWIFT says banks are still under attack from online fraudsters

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September 22, 2016

The senior information security officer for the global bank money transfer network SWIFT asserts that most large banks are still under attack from many online fraudsters hoping to cash in on identified security gaps to steal millions of dollars from financial institutions all over the world.

And the situation appears to be worsening. Alain Desausoi, security head of the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecom (SWIFT) made the comments at the Financial Times Cyber Security Summit Europe in London this week, and he was clearly worried about the many security issues that keep popping up lately.

He said the sophisticated attacks are not going to abate, adding SWIFT's security measures will assist banks to resist the fraudsters, but that banks need to be extra vigilant.

“The online security threats are real, very persistent, adaptive and extremely sophisticated, and they are here to stay," Desausoi warned.

He underscored-- "We continue to see several cases in which our customers’ environments have been compromised and subsequent attempts made to send fraudulent payment instructions. Fortunately, a good number of recent attacks have been thwarted or prevented either because our customers have stopped suspicious instructions or because the attacks have been identified through the customer security program."

In December of this year, SWIFT will introduce daily validation reports which allow the various banks to better review messages each day.

It will go some way in preventing further attacks similar to the huge $81 million online bank fraud of Bangladesh Central Bank in which experienced hackers targeted computers, staff, and the SWIFT messaging system to fabricate fake money transfers in both 2015 and 2016.

The same hacker group was also blamed for the theft of $12 million from an Ecuadoran bank, Banco del Austro SA.

SWIFT also announced it will seriously consider suspending some banks from its global transfer service until those financial institutions greatly improve their weak security implementations.

Source: The Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecom (SWIFT).

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