Financial sector faces growing cyber threat

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IBM Philippines urges companies to develop expert cyber security

AN average business organization sees at least 200,000 cyber crime threats in the course of their operations annually while larger institutions are getting a lot more, IBM Philippines President and Country Manager Luis Pineda said on Wednesday, urging companies to develop expertise in digital security.

To combat such cyber crime threats, organizations should be cognizant of the “wide scope and sophistication of attackers” while taking specific actions to minimize the chance of a successful attack and ensure resilience in the face of breaches, Pineda told The Manila Times 4th Business Forum held at the Marriott Hotel in Pasay City.

He warned that cyber thieves are much more sophisticated than the criminals of the old days when they would simply beat their targets with a club to steal their money.


“Today’s bank robber is an online criminal who will essentially execute a virtual version of a note that says, give me all the money in the safe but don’t put it in a bag. Exchange it for bitcoin and deposit it to this offshore account,” Pineda said.

Bitcoin is a kind of digital currency in which encryption techniques are utilized to regulate the generation of units of currency and verify the transfer of funds, operating independently of a central bank.

Noting that recent high-profile cyber crime incidents such as the $81 million electronic theft from Bangladesh’s central bank in February and the hacking of the Comelec’s voter information database weeks before the May 9 general election, Pineda said Philippine banks and other institutions face cyber crime security threats from external sources, internal sources, and fraud.

“In addition to malware, hackers, worms, trojans, or viruses, advanced external threats come from highly sophisticated intruders, organized cyber attackers motivated by financial gain, politics, or fame. These threats sneak into IT systems, undetected,” he said.

The second security threat pertains to the very employees of the targeted organizations.

“Second, internal threats. These could be caused by mishaps of uneducated or unaware employees, and possibly, fraudulent acts from disgruntled workers. These are threats from within,” he explained.

“And third is fraud, this is a threat coming from both outside and inside the organization using the enterprise to launder money or make it part of an organized crime’s value chain,” he added.

In order to combat such cyber crime threats, he said organizations should be cognizant of the “wide scope and sophistication of attackers” while taking specific actions to minimize the chance of a successful attack and ensure resilience in the face of breaches.

“Companies must build security intelligence, adopt an integrated approach to threat protection, educate employees, and develop expertise” in digital security, Pineda said.

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