Bangladeshi banks are at high risk of cyber attacks

A number of local public and private banks are currently at risk of cyberattacks mainly because of their indifference and fragile cybersecurity systems, prompting experts to suggest immediate action.

Advocacy groups and experts said a large percentage of banks are not taking enough precautions to ward off the potential attacks and avert major financial losses they deem imminent.

The malicious actors behind such a cross-border invasion include not only increasingly daring criminals — like the Carbanak group, which targeted financial institutions to steal more than $1 billion between 2013 and 2018 — but also states and state-owned promoted criminal gangs a 2021 report published by the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

In June 2022, the Bangladesh Institute of Bank Management (BIBM) conducted a study on the situation of the banking sector in 2020, which found that almost 52% of banks are at serious risk of cyber attacks.

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In April 2020, the Financial Stability Board (FSB) warned that “if not properly contained, a major cyber incident could seriously disrupt financial systems, including critical financial infrastructure, which could lead to wider financial stability implications”.

In March 2016, the Bangladesh Bank issued a policy urging banks to upgrade their cybersecurity capabilities following the unprecedented orchestrated raid on the bank’s reserves.

The regulator had also instructed them to form a Security Operation Center (SOC) to oversee security measures around the clock.

But most banks have yet to install SOCs, sources added, leaving such vigilance a long way off.

Faced with this phenomenon, experts also called for increased measures by regulators to strengthen the weak cybersecurity scenario in Bangladesh’s banking sector, emphasizing the need for banks to build the capacity of their staff and improve security shield logistical support.

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The state’s e-government Computer Incident Response Team (BGD e-Gov CIRT) said that these financial institutions (FIs), particularly banks, are the most desirable target of cybercriminals, making a shocking revelation that about 99% are both private and public Banks have recently been hit by major cyber attacks.

The report, titled “Sectoral Cyber ​​Threat Intelligence for Banking Industries,” also found that most users of banking applications and portals (both internal and external) were not properly aware of cyber hygiene.

The investigation also found that insecure use and/or access to internal applications/portals by employees’ mobile devices may increase the risk of disclosure of critical corporate assets.

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In 75% of cases, credential theft is possible due to insecure use of mobile or computing devices, it said.

Another report titled Common Vulnerabilities in Cyber ​​Space of Bangladesh states that the vulnerability of cyberspace in the country is increasing day by day.

Almost 70% of attacks against financial institutions targeted banks, says Research by IBM X-Force, adding that in 2021 about 16% targeted insurance companies, while 14% targeted other financial institutions.

The intelligence unit of the BGD e-GOV CIRT has also found that managed applications/devices from vendors have a major impact on organizations’ assets.

It was also noted that strong password policy enforcement was lacking in many banking applications and portals.

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