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Number of people hit by professional financial cyber attack grows after lull

Kaspersky Labs reports that the number of people hit by financial cyber attack grew in 2016 after falling in the previous two years

Last year saw an increase in the number of individuals attacked by cyber criminals targeting their finances through viruses, after decreasing over the previous two years, according to Kaspersky Labs.

In its Financial Cyberthreats report for 2016, Kaspersky said: “After detecting a decrease in the number of attacked users in 2014 and 2015, the number of victims started to grow again in 2016.”

The report said financial phishing attacks were at an all-time high last year, with financial attacks accounting for nearly half (47.48%) of the 155 million phishing scams recorded in total. Phishing attacks cost the least for cyber criminals to launch.

Banks accounted for almost 26% of phishing attacks in the finance sector while e-commerce site (10%) and payment systems (11.5%) were also heavily targeted.

When it comes to malware, last year saw about a 30% increase in the number of users attacked with banking Trojans in 2016, with just over one million hit. About 21% of users attacked with banking malware were in corporates. Kaspersky said for two years in a row, almost every fifth user attacked with banking malware was a corporate user.

“It is hard to underestimate the danger of such attacks. In a successful attack against a private user, the criminal will get access to his or her private banking or payment system. If such an attack is successful against a corporate user, it is not only the private account of the employee at risk, but also the financial assets of the company he or she is working for.

UK people were not amongst the most affected, according to the report. It said users in Russia, Germany, Japan, India, Vietnam and the US were most often attacked by banking malware.

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It said that Zbot was banking the most prevalent malware family, accounting for just over 44% of those attacked, but in 2016 it was challenged by the Gozi malware family that accounted for over 17% of attacks.

There was a 430% increase in the number of Android users hit by banking malware. It accounted for 305,000 attacks worldwide. Russia, Australia and Ukraine had the highest percentage of users attacked by Android banking malware.

Kaspersky concluded that while financial services firms have been working hard to make financial transactions online more secure through things like multifactor authentication and customer education, more needs to be done.

“Our threat statistics show there is still plenty of room for financial fraud operations involving phishing and specific banking malware in this sphere,” said the report.

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