Treasury Today Country Profiles in association with Citi
Treasury Today October 2014 magazine cover Buy print copy button

October 2014

Previous editions

Editorial

Cybercrime means business

Despite growing investment in measures to counter cyber-attack, an increasing number of banks and corporations are being caught short by fraudsters online. Given the pervasive reach of the internet, no country is immune from the threat of cybercrime. Nigeria, our Country Focus in this edition of Treasury Today, is no exception. A cyber heist on the nation’s banks in September saw criminals get away with more than $35m. Since 2013, Nigeria is now thought to have lost almost $120m to internet-based fraud.

Even the European Central Bank (ECB) has been hit by cybercriminals. In July, hackers stole email addresses and contact details from the bank before sending an anonymous – and audacious – email attempting to extort money from the ECB in return for the stolen information!

But it’s not only banks that are at risk: in September, it emerged that North American home improvement retailer Home Depot had been the victim of a credit card breach. Reports suggest that the breach could be considerably larger than the theft of the card data of 40 million Target customers in late 2013. Home Depot said in a statement that shoppers who have visited its stores from April onwards could be impacted by the breach.

What this incident highlights is the fact that cybercrime is not just about money. It’s about data – and also about reputations. Goodwill and loyalty can be destroyed in an instant by data breaches that undermine customers’ trust.

The fight against cybercrime

On the plus side, banks and companies are fighting back with new technologies that should make it harder for the cybercriminals to strike. From next year, for example, UK corporate clients of Barclays Bank will be able to sign in and access online services and portals using a new form of authentication technology – one that uses unique finger vein patterns. Developed in partnership with Hitachi, the new technology will be a first for the UK banking industry.

Law enforcers are also getting tough on cybercrime. The European Police Office, Europol, has launched a cybercrime task force to address the problem in the EU and beyond. The law enforcement agency said the scheme, initially a pilot, would target threats including banking Trojans, Botnets and online fraud.

While cybersecurity and the sophistication of detection and counter measures advance, so do the cybercriminals – the challenge for banks and corporates is to stay one step ahead.