Israeli banks combat rise in phishing

Hackers increasingly fake Israeli banks' websites and send emails asking customers to update details and passwords.

Sources inform ''Globes'' that the banks have quietly been dealing with a wave phishing attacks, reportedly from hostile countries. In an absolute majority of cases, the banks successfully blocked the attacks in real time, but there have been instances in which customers disclosed their details and suffered the theft of thousands of shekels. The banks compensated the customers for the losses.

In the past three months, there have been scores of phishing attacks, in which hackers impersonate a bank's website and send emails to customers asking them to update their details and passwords via the attached link. Any customer who responds, exposes his bank account to the hacker.

Protection from phishing is simple: don’t respond to any request for personal details online.

The banks say that a unique feature of the phishing attacks is an attempt to convert customers' money into bitcoin - virtual currency that is not subject to any central bank or exposed to inflation, so its quantity cannot be increased. Because bitcoin is unsupervised, it is easier to use to evade taxes or launder money. As a virtual currency, there is no record of the conversion transaction, and a hacker can disappear with the money and convert it into any currency of his choice.

The Bank of Israel said in response, "The Banking Supervision Department is aware of the phishing by hostile parties at the accounts of bank customers. The banks have the appropriate means to locate and deal with these incidents.

Israel Discount Bank (TASE: DSCT) said in response, "Lately, we have seen attempts to set up sites impersonating the bank's site to carry out phishing. We are constantly and regularly acting to locate these attempts by various means, while warning our customers not to disclose private information on unknown websites."

Mizrahi Tefahot Bank (TASE:MZTF) said in response, "The bank's security system has acted, and continues to act 24 hours a day to prevent harm to the bank and/or its customers. No customer of the bank has been harmed by these attempts."

Bank Hapoalim (TASE: POLI) said in response, "Bank Hapoalim does not disclose information about cyber attacks."

Regulators let banks cooperate against cyber attacks

Two years ago the Bank of Israel and Antitrust Authority allowed the banks to share information about increasingly sophisticated cyber attacks. In response, a year ago, banks set up the Almog system, under the auspices of the Association of Banks in Israel. The system is updated by a bank about a hacking attempt and its origin, allowing other banks to prepare, since a cyber attack against one bank is usually launched against others. The banks, however, do not share information about their defense measures.

The Bank of Israel has also set up a cyber unit at the Banking Supervision Department. The Bank of Israel has instructed the banks to expedite their preparations against cyber attacks and to involve executives and the board of directors cyber defense plans.

The Information Security Authority at the Prime Minister's Office is also involved in the matter, in collaboration with the Bank of Israel, to prevent hostile parties from hacking a bank and paralyzing it, in a kind of economic terrorism.

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on September 15, 2013

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2013

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