Saturday, February 14, 2009

Cyber crime wave targets on-line bank accounts

TARGET : Cyber crime wave targets on-line bank accounts

11 February 2009

Copenhagen Post


Hackers send programmes known as 'spyware' that can record the user's pin code

On-line banking is a risky business for customers who do not take appropriate security measures

Denmark is currently facing a wave of cyber attacks, but even though banks beef up their defences, they say there is little they can do when it comes to the weakest link – users themselves, reports Politiken newspaper.

The wave of attacks comes as banks report an increasing number of people using on-line services are experiencing that their accounts are being hacked and their money stolen. Last year the number of reported thefts from people's on-line accounts nearly doubled to 156. In 2007, the number was 85.

'We're as vigilant as we can be, but in reality any net bank user with a computer that isn't fully updated is at risk of being attacked,' said Birgitte Madsen of the Danish Bankers Association.

As many as 3.3 million Danes use on-line banking, and although many are aware that they should not open suspicious attachments to e-mails, new generations of computer viruses can attack without the user knowing it.

Older versions of programmes such as iTunes, Java and Acrobat can contain security holes that allow hackers to send programmes known as 'spyware' that can record the user's pin code and send it back to the hacker.

'This is a major risk, because users don't know they are susceptible,' said Peter Kruse of Csis, a computer company that works with banks to improve security. 'Banks do a lot to prevent hacking, but users need to be responsible for their own computer security.'

According to F-secure, another bank IT security provider, the latest wave of attacks stems from Russia or Ukraine. 'We shouldn't underestimate these people. They work in big foreign companies that create these programs,' channel manager Michael Dahl said.

Deputy commissioner Henning Schmidt, head of the financial crimes unit for the Copenhagen Police, said their evidence also points to the culprits originating in a Russian speaking country, but added that many hackers also use local 'mules' – a middleman who transfers the stolen money to the hacker's account.

Schmidt said preventing on-line break-ins requires users to secure their computers the same way they would their homes.

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