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FBI, Banks Go Global With Cybercrime-Fighting Tactics

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The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) last week announced charges against 11 alleged members of a cybercriminal ring targeting small businesses.

Reports in Krebs on Security said the FBI is charging 11 individuals said to be a part of the GozNym malware network, which has targeted more than 41,000 victims with its GozNym trojan, stealing a combined $100 million. Between October 2015 and December 2016, the crime ring allegedly infected victims’ computers across the globe with malware.

The scam involved cybercriminals stealing bank login credentials, gaining access to online bank accounts, stealing money and then laundering those funds through other bank accounts the defendants control. Reports said law enforcement highlighted the impact this scam had on small businesses in particular.

The FBI said victims included a church, an asphalt and paving business, a medical equipment distributor, a furniture business and others that in many cases were forced to lay off workers or go out of business entirely as a result of financial losses from the attack.

In their announcement, law enforcement officials reflected on the rising importance of cross-border collaboration in tackling international cyber threats.

“International law enforcement has recognized that the only way to truly disrupt and defeat transnational, anonymized networks is to do so in partnership,” said U.S. Attorney Scott W. Brady of the Western District of Pennsylvania, who announced the charges at Europol in the Netherlands. “The collaborative and simultaneous prosecution of the members of the GozNym criminal conspiracy in four countries represents a paradigm shift in how we investigate and prosecute cybercrime. Cybercrime victimizes people all over the world. This prosecution represents an international cooperative effort to bring cybercriminals to justice.”

“This takedown highlights the importance of collaborating with our international law enforcement partners against this evolution of organized cybercrime,” reiterated RBI Pittsburgh Special Agent in Charge Robert Jones in another statement. “Successful investigation and prosecution is only possible by sharing intelligence, credit and responsibility. Our adversaries know that we are weakest along the seams and this case is a fantastic example of what we can accomplish collectively.”

Law enforcement officials aren’t the only ones taking a global cooperative approach to cybersecurity.

Earlier this month Reuters reported that the central banks of the Group of Seven (G7) nations were preparing a cyberattack simulation that would address the threat of a cross-border attack and test the banks’ ability to collaborate across those borders to mitigate the threat.

Reports said the test will be the first cross-border simulation at the G7 level.

“Cyber threats are proof that we need more multilateralism and more cooperation between our countries,” said French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire earlier this month when he announced the simulation plans during a cybersecurity conference at the French central bank.

The exercise will last three days and aim to highlight the particular challenges of a global cyberattack on the financial system. The initiative will include 24 financial authorities across the G7, reports said, including central banks, finance ministries and market regulators. Members of the financial private sector in France, Italy, Germany and Japan will also join in the initiative, according to the publication.

Reports last year in the Financial Times further emphasized the role of global collaboration in addressing cyber threats, pointing to cooperation between law enforcement in the Netherlands and the U.K., with support by Europol and agencies from 12 other jurisdictions to take down cyberattack website Webstresser in what officials dubbed Operation Power Off.

The publication also noted Operation Taiex earlier in the year, which involved Spanish national police, the U.S. FBI, Europol, and authorities across eastern Europe and Taiwan.

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