ONLINE banks will become a big target for hackers and the number of attacks are expected to increase next year, according to security company Trend Micro.
“Threats targeting financial institutions have been on the rise and it comes as no surprise because most hackers are financially motivated,” said Victor Lo, Trend Micro’s regional consulting director for South East Asia.
According to the company, in Malaysia 16 million users use online banking and out of that 5.1 million use a mobile device to do their transactions.
“With the higher adoption of smartphones, people are more likely to do their daily transactions from an app on their phone instead of logging in on their desktop or laptop,” said Lo.
The popularity and mass adoption of Android devices is one of the main causes that a lot of malicious code are targeting the Android operating system and the trend is likely to continue in 2015.
“At the very least ensure that you are downloading apps from reputable app stores like Google Play instead of third-party stores,” Lo advised.
"However, even on Google Play malicious apps can masquerade as genuine apps.The problem is that most users do not install security software on their phone or tablet as they would on their desktop computers.
“Once a phone is compromised by a malicious app, it is highly likely the attacker can remotely control the phone without the user even knowing. Even worse, some apps can hop between different platforms so an infected phone can even infect a desktop computer that it is connected to it.”
Lo says there is a general lack of awareness on what to look out for when installing apps, especially when granting them permission to access your location, text messages, WiFi, camera and such.
As banks expand their operations regionally they are exposed to even more cyber threats.
Lo predicts that threats targeting banks will continue to become more severe next year and Malaysia is one of the top online banking markets that will be targeted.
Part of the reason why there have been an increase in the number cybercrimes is due to the easy access to hacking tools.
“Cybercriminals are leveraging on Deep Web and darknet services using untraceable and anonymous peer-to-peer (P2P) networks to sell tools and services. It does not help that the price of malicious apps are decreasing due to the overabundance in supply,” said Lo.
He suspects the easy proliferation of hacking tools led to the ATM hackings in September here where a Latin American syndicate stole RM1 million by infecting the machines with malware.
There is a greater need for collaboration between international agencies like Interpol and Internet security companies, said Lo.
Agencies can advise and instruct companies on how to prevent and fight cybercrime, taking advantage of both their strengths and resources.
“Perhaps a regulatory body like Bank Negara can come up with guidelines to encourage local banks to have their own app store to ensure customers are downloading genuine and secure apps instead,” said Lo.