Compromised credit cards increased 212 percent last year

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Hackers are becoming a bigger threat to banks and financial institutions

Famous bank robber Willie Sutton, when asked why he robbed banks, is reported to have replied: “because that’s where the money is.”

That common sense reason may be why hackers expend a lot of their energy trying to compromise networks operated by banks and other financial services institutions. Success promises a rather large payoff.

A study by IntSights, a threat intelligence company, found attacks against financial service industry (FSI) enterprises accounted for more than 25 percent of all cyber attacks in 2018. That was more than any of the other 27 industries the company tracked.

In many cases, the attacks were successful. The study found the number of compromised credit cards increased 212 percent last year. There was a 129 percent year-over-year increase in credential (login) leaks.

"Threat actors are using tactics like social media impersonation, malicious mobile applications, and phishing schemes to circumvent corporate networks and leverage organizations' brands to trick users and run scams," said Hadar Rosenberg, threat intelligence research analyst at IntSights.

Rosenberg says these kinds of attacks are not always directed against a corporate network but can still be damaging and costly. He says it’s important for organizations controlling sensitive financial information to constantly monitor potential threats before they manifest into attacks.

Change passwords frequently

That’s why consumers should frequently change login credentials for online banking and financial services accounts. Changing your password could mean your compromised information would be useless to a cyber thief.

The largest hack of an FSI enterprise occurred in 2017 when Equifax, the credit reporting agency, said hackers had broken into its network and stolen files on at least 143 million consumers. That number was later greatly expanded.

As a result, millions of consumers’ social security numbers are circulating on the dark web, requiring vigilant credit account monitoring to prevent identity theft.

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