Why Kaspersky’s Bank Robbery Report Should Scare Us All

So, you don't work for a financial institution? Don't think you're off the hook for this level of theft. Banks are certainly not the only organizations moving around massive amounts of money every day.

Susan Nunziata, Editorial Director

February 18, 2015

3 Min Read
<p align="left">(Image: Courtesy of Kaspersky Lab)</p>

be fired for embezzlement before anyone ever caught on that we weren't the guilty parties? That scares me. And I think it should scare you, too.

There's nothing new about the fact that the exploit involved an old Microsoft Office vulnerability for which a patch had long since been issued. We already know many organizations are sloppy when it comes to patch updates.

But the level of targeting – heck, let's call it stalking – that was involved in this attack seems pretty sophisticated to my untrained eye. The Kaspersky report noted that, as part of an automated reconnaissance phase, "the Carbanak malware checked victim systems for the presence of specialized and specific banking software. Only after the presence of these banking systems was confirmed were victims further exploited."

[ What did the Anthem breach teach us? Read Anthem Hack: Lessons For IT Leaders. ]

So, where does that leave enterprise IT, and others in your organization? Well, for starters, whatever education we're giving employees about how to identify potential malware can't possibly account for this kind of advanced persistent threat (APT). As Kaspersky stated in its report:

We believe that the Carbanak campaign is a clear indicator of a new era in cybercrime in which criminals use APT techniques directly against the financial industry instead of through customers. APTs are not only for stealing information anymore.

Here's some advice from Kaspersky on the early warning signs that Carbanak has hacked you:


Sure, at the moment, the targets were financial institutions. It's really a high-tech version of cooking the books. Once the hackers were inside, according to Kasperksy, they were able to set up fake accounts, or add dollar amounts to real accounts, and then authorize the transfer of those sums out of the bank, either to ATM machines or to external accounts, without anybody catching on.

So, you don't work for a financial institution? Don't think you're off the hook. Banks are certainly not the only organizations moving around massive amounts of money every day. All major multinational corporations and government agencies could, potentially, have their finance and accounting systems fall prey to a similar attack.

According to Krebs:

Most organizations — even many financial institutions — aren't set up to defeat skilled attackers; their network security is built around ease-of-use, compliance, and/or defeating auditors and regulators. Organizations architected around security (particularly banks) are expecting these sorts of attacks, assuming that attackers are going to get in, and focusing their non-compliance efforts on breach response.

Have I scared you yet? If not, tell me why. And, if you are as terrified as I am, tell me how you plan to address this in your organization. Let's discuss in the comments section below.

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About the Author(s)

Susan Nunziata

Editorial Director

Susan Nunziata leads the site's content team and contributors to guide topics, direct strategies, and pursue new ideas, all in the interest of sharing practicable insights with our community.
Nunziata was most recently Director of Editorial for EnterpriseEfficiency.com, a UBM Tech community. Prior to joining UBM Tech, Nunziata was Editorial Director for the Ziff Davis Enterprise portfolio of Websites, which includes eWEEK, Baseline, and CIO Insight. From 2010-2012, she also served as Editor in Chief of CIO Insight. Prior to joining Ziff Davis Enterprise, she served as Editor in Chief of Mobile Enterprise from 2007 to 2010. A frequent public speaker, Nunziata has entertained audiences with compelling topics such as "Enterprise Mobility" and "The Multigenerational Workforce." She even managed to snag invitations to speak at the MIT Sloan CIO Symposium – not once, but twice (and those folks are smart). In a past life, she worked as a lead editor for entertainment and marketing publications, including Billboard, Music Business International, and Entertainment Marketing Letter.A native New Yorker, in August 2011 Nunziata inexplicably picked up stakes and relocated to the only place in the country with a higher cost of living: The San Francisco Bay Area. A telecommuter, her office mates are two dogs and two extremely well fed cats. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Journalism from St. John's University in Jamaica, N.Y. (and she doesn't even watch basketball).

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