Russian banks lose 3.5 billion Rubles to hackers

Russian banks increasingly concerned at the activities of cyber-criminals taking advantage of dated operating systems.

Russian banks lose 3.5 billion Rubles to hackers
Russian banks lose 3.5 billion Rubles to hackers

Total losses for Russian banks and their customers due to cyber-attacks in 2014 amounted to more than 3.5 billion Rubles (£45 million) in 2014, which is a record figure in the history of modern Russia, according to an official spokesman of the Russian Central Bank.

Timur Batyrev, deputy director of the department of national payment system of the Russian Central Bank told SCMagazineUK.com that in recent months the majority of cyber-attacks had targetted online banking services, and mobile devices.

In the latter case, according to Batyrev, the number of mobile banking Trojans, designed to steal money, has increased by nine times, compared to 2013 and continues to grow this year.

Batyrev added that the number of cyber-attacks on bank accounts in Russia in 2014 exceeded 300,000 operations, which made the Russian banking system the most vulnerable to cyber-attacks in Europe. 

According to analysts at Kaspersky Lab, since the beginning of the current year hackers have significantly increased the number of their attacks on the servers of some leading Russian banks, as well as subsidiaries of some major international banks in Russia.

A spokesman of Kaspersky Lab told SCMagazine.com that some hackers and hacker groups in Russia can remotely control the issuance of money from ATMs as well as complete money transfers and conduct sophisticated targeted attacks to manipulate online banking systems.

One of the reasons for this is the continued widespread use of Windows XP operating system by the majority of Russian banks, which has become very vulnerable to hacker attacks since the end of Microsoft support for the operating system.

A spokesman for Kaspersky Lab also said that the current situation is aggravated by a significant increase of the number of mobile applications, designed to steal money from bank accounts. The vast majority of attacks on bank accounts have been targetted at the owners of Android smartphones.

Sergei Lozhkin, an anti-virus expert at Kaspersky Lab, told SCMagazineUK.com that scammers concentrate their efforts on using banking Trojans and backdoors, which allow them to steal money from bank accounts or obtain the information needed to enable them to steal.

Lozhkin explains that information can be stolen in many ways, including taking screenshots during the display of the confidential information, as well as capturing data during input via the keyboard using key-logging software.

Another method used to access online banking systems is that hackers determine the anti-virus system of the bank and its IT security system and identify its weaknesses. Then they are able to insert the appropriate malware which is given the command to upgrade the software.

An official spokesman of the press-service of the Russian Central Bank told SCMagazineUK.com that the Russian banking community is seriously worried about the ever growing activities of hackers, and they are discussing the introduction of new  IT security guidelines for Russian banks, which are expected to be compiled in cooperation with local and foreign vendors.