Member Banks of the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) seem to be in the cybercriminal’s crosshairs these days.
The global interbank messaging system reportedly sent private letters to its clients this week alerting them to newer hacking attacks since earlier this year when a string of attacks were discovered shortly after the massive cyberheist of Bangladesh's central bank.
"Customers’ environments have been compromised, and subsequent attempts [were] made to send fraudulent payment instructions," a copy of the letter, reviewed by Reuters, stated. "The threat is persistent, adaptive and sophisticated, and it is here to stay."
The Brussels-based interbank cooperative explained that cybercriminals have ramped up their efforts since the Bangladesh Bank heist, targeting those Member Banks with weaker security procedures for SWIFT-enabled transfers.
SWIFT continues to put pressure on banks to step up their cybersecurity measures — even threatening to report banks to regulators if they miss a Nov. 19 deadline for implementing the latest version of its software. The updates are designed to help prevent hackers from exploiting local networks to send fraudulent messages requesting money transfers.
Fraudsters Hard At Work
You can certainly never say fraudsters don’t take their jobs seriously — their work ethic is frighteningly impressive.
The newly released Global Fraud Attack Index™, a PYMNTS and Forter collaboration, found that fraud attacks have jumped 137 percent over the four quarters ending March 2016. This means over $7 out of every $100 made in retail sales are impacted.
Fraudsters seem to have their eyes on the prize — digital goods. These transactions experienced a 186 percent spike in fraud attacks, with food and beverage transactions coming in at a close second, with a 116 percent increase in attacks from fraudsters.
Unfortunately, as the threat of fraud increases, so does the cost and effort needed in trying to keep the malicious activities of fraudsters at bay. One study found that the annual fraud costs for U.S. retailers reached a staggering $32 billion in 2014. In 2015, retailers lost an estimated 1.3 percent of revenue — more than double the rate of 2014.
The index echoed those facts — global fraud costs are indeed on the rise.
Between Q2 2015 and Q1 2016, the fraction of dollars that was hit with fraud attacks increased by 250 basis points, from 4.8 percent in Q2 2015 to 7.3 percent in Q1 2016. At the beginning of 2015, less than $2 out of $100 was subject to a fraud attack. However, by Q1 2016, that increased to $7.3 out of every $100. Not surprisingly, this increase could take a significant toll on a retailer’s profits.
Treasures From The Deep Dark Web
Authorities in Finland confirmed that, earlier this year, nearly €1 million was seized in connection with an online dark market. The Finnish customs agency was able to shut down an illegal drug site on the Dark Web, essentially halting the sale of around 15 kilos of drugs, totaling 10 million doses, with a street value at about €1.1 million.
Suspects associated with the online drug site, named Valhalla (but referred to as the “Online Drug Shop”), are accused of trying to bring into Finland more than 40 pounds of powdered drugs, upwards of 40,000 ecstasy tablets and 30,000 tabs of LSD, plus a variety of “designer” drugs and pure methamphetamine.
Growing Threats To Bitcoin Exchanges
In the emerging world of cryptocurrencies, cybertheft is becoming a common occurrence.
Earlier this month, Hong Kong-based bitcoin exchange Bitfinex lost $72 million after hackers penetrated a secure authentication system, causing the firm’s customers to lose 36 percent of assets held through the digital platform. A little under 120,000 coins were stolen from Bitfinex, standing among the largest breaches of cryptocurrency exchanges, as measured in dollar terms.
According to new data disclosed by Reuters, a third of bitcoin trading platforms have been hacked, and roughly half have closed within six years of entering the market.
Though many bitcoin exchanges operate like virtual banks, when it comes down to it, there’s no depositor's insurance to absorb any losses — putting the risk for bitcoin holders on an upward trend.
"There is a general sense in the bitcoin community that any centralized repository is at risk," an anonymous source, who lost nearly $1,000 in bitcoin in the wake of the Bitfinex hack, told Reuters.
"So, when investing, you always have that expectation at the back of your head. I lost a small amount compared to the others, but I know of traders who lost millions of dollars worth of bitcoins," the U.S.-based professional trader said.