"If you give a man a fish, he'll eat for a day. If you
teach a man to spearphish, he'll use your credit card to buy
This little tech joke speaks volumes about the impact of cyber
threats in today's computer-dependent economy. Quite obviously,
the financial industry is the worst affected by the rising menace
of cyber crime.
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The reality of computer crime, though far removed from
Hollywood's depiction, is still a massive security issue. In
fact, cyber threats have also perturbed the White House over the
past few months, recently compelling the U.S. Office of the
Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) to step in. The regulatory body
has promised to help smaller banks defend themselves from cyber
attacks in an effort to protect the health of the overall
The support will be given to smaller financial institutions,
primarily those which do not have ample resources or proficiency
to counter net-crime. The spate of cyber attacks began last year
JPMorgan Chase & Co.
Bank of America Corp.
Wells Fargo & Co.
The PNC Financial Services Group
) were also hit. What's more alarming is that the well-defended
sites of these banking majors have suffered connection problems
under the yoke of the recent attacks.
Unknown perpetrators flooded bank websites with massive data
streams, making them unavailable to customers and halting
operations for hours. The method used is known as distributed
denial-of-service (DDoS), which often directs a huge amount of
traffic from hacked computers to the targeted websites. The
volume of Internet traffic that has been directed at these sites
was such that most caused a breakdown of powerful servers.
For example, last year, security firms supervising Internet
traffic noticed a surge of "junk" data directed at BofA's site,
which became a torrent of about 65 gigabytes of information per
second. That is roughly 15-30 times more than what is usually
seen in cyber attacks. Therefore, smaller banks that have less
sophisticated protective walls than their Wall Street
counterparts are soft targets.
Moreover, smaller banks are more susceptible to attacks as these
are dependent on a third party for online banking facilities.
These third party servers are like new connections, offering
access points to all connected networks, thus making smaller
financial organizations more vulnerable.
Countries and corporations are bracing up Internet security
against the terror of cyber crime as well as developing
strategies to upgrade government computer systems and expand
cooperation with other countries. Efforts to improve coordination
within the private sector are also noticeable.
The OCC has appointed a Senior Critical Infrastructure Officer to
address cyber issues along with officials of both government and
private sector companies.
With increased spending by government and large enterprises, we
believe companies such as
) and McAfee, a subsidiary of
), will be encouraged to develop innovative products for a
secured cyber space. EMC recently announced its intention of
spending on acquisitions that will prioritize security apart from
Earlier this month,
) announced plans to launch an extended managed security
solutions (MSS) suit, including mobile security solution, by this
year end. The company's high-end MSS security solution seeks to
combine network and device security together with secured virtual
private networking, application and a suite of mobile device
management solution. This service will provide corporate users
with all-inclusive security for their mobile ecosystems
regardless of utilization of the AT&T mobile network.
Additionally, the shares of cyber security firm
) surged almost 80% at its trading debut last Friday, indicating
that even Wall Street is keeping its eyes on the cyber security
trend. FireEye is a global network security company that provides
dynamic malware protection against latest cyber threats.
While mere listing and coding of security loopholes may not be
the answer to hacking, it should serve as a stepping stone toward
solving the extremely complex issue. Moreover, training and
know-how on security matters are crucial since users often
unknowingly guide hackers through their actions.