US banks face real hacker threat

Washington - Dozens of US banks face a "credible" threat from hackers based in Eastern Europe who are planning large-scale attacks next year, a security firm said in a report released on Thursday.

The report released by McAfee Labs supports the conclusions of researchers at another security firm, RSA, which first drew attention to the campaign expected to target 30 US financial institutions.

McAfee, owned by Intel, said the so-called Project Blitzkrieg "is a credible threat to the financial industry and appears to be moving forward as planned."

The hackers, who have been traced to servers hosted in Ukraine and led by an individual nicknamed vorVzakone, have already used the malware to steal at least $5m since 2008, according to McAfee and RSA.

The McAfee report said it sees a real threat in early 2013 despite some speculation in the security community that the project had been dropped after being exposed.

"McAfee Labs believes that Project Blitzkrieg is a credible threat to the financial industry and appears to be moving forward as planned," McAfee researcher Ryan Sherstobitoff said in the report.

"Some recent reports argue that vorVzakone has called off this attack because it has been made public. Yet it is possible that the publicity may merely drive his activities deeper underground."

McAfee said the attack "combines both a technical, innovative back-end with the tactics of a successful, organized cybercrime movement."

An early pilot project "infected at a minimum 300 to 500 victims across the United States," according to McAfee.

Mor Ahuvia of the security firm RSA said in an October blog post that the series of Trojan attacks is set to be carried out by "100 botmasters" taking over control of infected computers.

Ahuvia said the attackers plan to use malware called "Gozi Prinimalka," which is a term derived from the Russian word meaning "to receive".

Earlier this year, several US banks appeared to be targeted by so-called denial of service attacks, which aim to bring down websites by flooding the networks with data requests.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24
Lockdown For
DAYS
HRS
MINS
Voting Booth
As a child or as an adult, have you ever been a victim of bullying?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Results
Yes, at school
55% - 2332 votes
Yes, at work
17% - 726 votes
No, I've never experienced this
28% - 1181 votes
Vote
USD/ZAR
14.21
(-0.5)
GBP/ZAR
19.90
(+0.0)
EUR/ZAR
17.15
(+0.2)
AUD/ZAR
11.10
(+0.6)
JPY/ZAR
0.13
(-0.4)
Gold
1,768.21
(-0.2)
Silver
25.90
(+0.3)
Platinum
1,206.00
(-0.3)
Brent Crude
67.05
(+0.4)
Palladium
2,800.50
(-0.6)
All Share
67,931
(-0.2)
Top 40
62,189
(-0.2)
Financial 15
12,322
(-0.8)
Industrial 25
88,190
(-0.1)
Resource 10
69,711
(-0.1)
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo