Bank Cybersecurity: How to Foil a Bank Robbery

Tall Skyscrapers

(….AND stop an evil dictator from stealing billions of dollars, oppress an entire country, and fund a vast military and nuclear program…results vary)

According to an August New York Times expose, hackers tied to the North Korean government are trying to rob banks across the globe by draining ATMs and initiating fraudulent money transfers. The attacks which represent a combination of phishing attacks and social engineering schemes have been underway since last February and are motivated by the cash-strapped Pyongyang regime to fund its nuclear weapons program. According to the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, these coordinated attacks against banks and interbank payment processors have been critical in offsetting income from other activities lost in the wake of U.N. sanctions towards North Korea.

The article goes on to show how North Korea’s cyber-enabled bank-robbing campaigns have proven lucrative to the perpetrators and debilitating to the victims. These include the 2016 theft of $81M from the Bank of Bangladesh to the 2018 theft of more than $13 million from India’s Cosmos Bank…to similar attacks around the world.

Ain’t too shabby of a bank heist, and no get-away vehicle is required. 

You know? This story really has all the makings of a Jack Ryan plotline – mystery, international intrigue, and espionage. However, at the end of the day, it’s the same old story – thieves trying to get rich. And where better to steal money than a bank.

The Finance Industry is a Target of Cyber Attacks

According to the IBM X-Force Threat Intelligence Index report, finance and insurance was the most attacked industry for three years in a row. According to a report from Boston Consulting Group (BCG), that’s 300x more than other companies. And finally, according to the Cost of Cybercrime Study in Financial Services: 2019 Report by Accenture, Cybercrime costs financial services $18.5 million annually (I’m just going to assume that’s an average and not counting the 2016 and 2018 India bank attacks).

So what is a bank to do? Well, the Threater Threat Intelligence Firewall platform can deliver network protection powered by threat intelligence to Banks, Credit Unions and other Financial Services organizations. Our platform provides 30 million threat indicators “out of the box” from leading commercial threat intel providers, open source, and government sources and enables easy integration industry threat intelligence from FS-ISAC (must be an FS-ISAC member). On top of this, our platform enables easy GEO-IP blocking, whereby IP and domain traffic from an entire country (like North Korea) can be blocked before that traffic can hit the network. Thats great news for Banks….not such great news if you’re a hacker seeking to break into a bank, or an evil dictator seeking world domination.

Resources on Financial Industry Cybersecurity

Check out our latest datasheet, Using Threat Intelligence to Protect Banks and Credit Unions to learn more about how Threater can help protect your Bank, Credit Union, or Financial Services business. Or read our Financial Industry Cybersecurity Case Study and learn about other banks that we have helped.

To start protecting your financial institution with actionable threat intelligence today, call 1.855.765.4925 or email