Up to 100 banks and other finanicial institutions around the world have been hit by one of the most sophisicated cyber attacks to strike the finance industry, according to a Russian security company. As Joel Flynn reports, it's the latest in the online battle between criminals and law enforcement.
You won't be able to see it, but in the dark corners of the internet, hundreds of millions of dollars are being stolen from banks all over the world. Cybercriminals in Russia, Ukraine and China are at the heart. And the attacks are still happening right now says Russian computer security firm Kaspersky. It's released a report detailing the activities of a cyber crime gang which may have stolen as much as a billion dollars since 2013. Ollie Whitehouse is cyber security expert. SOUNDBITE: Cyber security expert and NCC Group Director, Ollie Whitehouse, saying: "So really to pull off something like this, the team doesn't have to be hundreds of people. What we see typically is a bunch of technologists, typically in the low tens, if that, combined with people that understand the systems they're attacking, could launch such an attack." Kaspersky has been working with Interpol, Europol and other agencies in a number of countries. The gang, referred to as "Cabanak", have been using a technique called "spear phising". It targets individual users with emails that release malware in companies systems once they're opened. SOUNDBITE: Cyber security expert and NCC Group Director, Ollie Whitehouse, saying: "The organisation's security relies on the lowest paid, least technically aware individual in the business. Indeed, there are people whose jobs it is are to open attachments from people they don't know. And so the kind of historical mechanisms to mitigate this is defence in depth, so using a variety of technical controls, policy procedures, training etc. But the reality is, and I think organisations have to be aware of this, if someone wants to get in, they likely will." SOUNDBITE: Reuters reporter, Joel Flynn, saying: "Cyber crime is nothing new, but the fight against it is becoming ever more complex. Protecting us online is no longer just about sophisticated computer software. Coporations and individuals are now being asked to give up their privacy to guarantee security. And that could mean allowing governments to routinely spy on our emails and our phone calls." Government surveillance practices in the U.S. and the UK have worried many. Covert spying on individuals justified by governments in the interests of protecting populations. Companies too in the spotlight. Sony Entertainment attacked late last year by hackers apparently in North Korea - compelling Barack Obama to look at changing cybersecurity law. What is for sure fighting cyber crime no longer means just changing your password.