Homeland Security: US Banks 'Actively Under Attack'

Dennis Faas's picture

According to the United States' Homeland Security chief, America's biggest financial institutions are "actively under attack" by hackers. Experts suggest it's a troubling scenario that is only going to get worse.

Homeland Security chief Janet Napolitano recently discussed this problem at a cybersecurity event hosted by The Washington Post. In her presentation, Napolitano told attendees that cybercriminals are actively stealing data and money from major US banks.

However, she stopped short of providing much detail. "I really don't want to go into that per se...I'm not giving you any classified information," Napolitano said. (Source: businessweek.com)

Banks Spending More on Security Than Ever Before

Napolitano did make clear the threat "has involved some of our nation's largest institutions," and "We've also had our stock exchanges attacked over the last [few] years, so we know...there are vulnerabilities."

Napolitano insisted that Homeland Security is "working with them on that."

Institutions under attack include Wells Fargo, Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Capital One Financial, PNC Bank, and U.S. Bank. Last month some of these banks experienced a series of distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks that threatened to knock their essential operations offline.

Observers estimate that, together, banks spend about $25 billion each year to protect themselves from cyber attack. Industry analyst firm IDC has suggested this number is growing by as much as 9 per cent each year.

Hackers Adapting to Advances in Technology

Verizon, which puts together a Data Breach Investigation Report each year, has said that 174 million records were compromised in 855 attacks by cybercriminals in 2011.

Part of the problem is that hackers are, arguably, adapting to advancing technology better and faster than security experts.

"While advancements in technology have created a world of accessibility to users and a convenience for consumers, they have also left room for criminals to exploit even the smallest of loopholes," noted FBI Special Agent Daphne Hearn. (Source: pcworld.com)

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