Banks making progress against cyber criminals: SWIFT

A new report from SWIFT has highlighted key improvement in banks’ cybersecurity measures, with the average value of attempted fraud transactions falling dramatically in the last 15 months.

The latest study of cyber threats facing the global financial community showed that approximately 70 per cent of attempted thefts from bank accounts in the past 15 months were US dollar based.

However, while the US dollar remains the currency of choice for attempted cybercriminals, the average value of attempted fraud has fallen from $10 million to between $2 million and $250,000.

SWIFT said heightened vigilance from financial institutions three years after a major cyber attack on Bangladesh Bank, coupled with changing modus operandi on the part of cybercriminals, have proved “critical” in effectively detecting and preventing attacks.

Notably, there has been a rise in the efficiency of bank’s early detection capabilities, while malicious actors - who previously favoured issuing fraudulent payments outside business hours to avoid detection - have more recently turned this approach on its head, acting during business hours to blend in with legitimate traffic.

Criminals are also exploiting new payment corridors. SWIFT said the vast majority of fraudulent transactions investigated over the past 15 months used combinations of target and beneficiary banks that had not been used during the previous 24 months.

Four out of every five of all fraudulent transactions were issued to beneficiary accounts in South East Asia, the report also found.

Dries Watteyne, head of cyber security incident response at SWIFT, said: “It is encouraging that detection rates of attempted attacks are increasing, but we need to be mindful that malicious actors adapt rapidly.

“The industry must continuously strengthen and diversify its defences, investigate incidents and share information.”

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