Hackers target financial institutions, heighten focus on customers

The financial sector accounts for at least 80 percent of known phishing attacks this year, underscoring the need for more security measures to protect the integrity of online transactions.

The financial sector accounts for at least 80 percent of known phishing attacks last year, according to a new study released by Financial Insights, a subsidiary of IDC. It urges for more security measures to be taken to protect the integrity of online transactions.

The research firm was citing figures from the Anti-Phishing Working Group, which had tracked phishing and related attacks from January to April this year.

The financial sector's increased reliance on the Web for the delivery of banking and finance services, has made it a prime target for phishers as few other industries can offer the same economic rewards it offers, according to a media statement released by Financial Insights.

While financial institutions have stepped up on their own security measures, cyber criminals have diverted their focus to customers. This trend has led regulators to take a more proactive stance on online security, noted Financial Insights.

Regulators in the Asia-Pacific region have since introduced rules aimed at tightening security loopholes that can be exploited. The Hong Kong Monetary Authority, for example, recently mandated the use of two-factor authentication for all high-risk Internet banking transactions.

Douglas A. Jaffe, associate director with Financial Insights, said: "The ability of criminals to rapidly circumvent new defensive measures should be of great concern to advocates of dual-factor authentication.

"However, an additional layer of protection, in conjunction with improved customer education and financial industry cooperation can be effective in helping improve security," he said. "The growing influence of the Web means there really is no choice but to improve online security. How best to do this, however, is still open to debate."


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