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ThreatMark Cyber Crime and Media Monitoring – Calm waters, but what is hidden beneath?

December 10, 2015

Public relations and press relations are often an important part of bank cyber security protection strategy. While having one finger on the pulse of current attacks, we keep another finger on the press’s reflection of what we see on the front line. We have done research in all European countries of press articles about cyber threats and on-line fraud, leading in the end to an examination of more than 400 press articles.

2015 was an important year in terms of cyber fraud being exposed and for informing about risk across Europe. What was in places kept secret is now fully disclosed to the masses. We see articles referring to various fraudulent cyber attacks as phishing, social network engineering, fraudulent malware, with attackers using remote administration tools to perform various forms of identity, login credential, transaction, payment, and alternative payment method activation fraud.

We have seen the effects of mass media distortive reporting on fraudulent cyber crime and we have also witnessed the mass media’s positive influence on the number of fraudulent cases solved. At least the growth of cyber attack occurrences has stopped in the most high profile forms such as amateur phishing sites and teenage style social network engineering. However, similar positive results have not materialized with attacks caused by financial malware, the most hidden enemy.

We can see two main reasons why the media are reporting more on phishing and social engineering and less on more dangerous financial malware.

  • The first, when new malware arrives, the infection is invisible to most users, phishing emails are something that people can identify and send to their IT / security and press contacts.
  • The second reason is that fraudulent malware attack schemes are more complicated, security and technology related and more varying in time, thus complicated to understand and to explain in more depth, at first sight.

Technical explanations of the concept behind malware driven attacks are not something that most popular journals would like to cover and thus the incidence of articles is lower.