SWIFT And Fraudulent Bank Transfers: Any Security Measures On Course Against Cyber Criminals?

SWIFT, the world money exchange, on Tuesday warned about 11,000 financial institutions around the world to hasten with their software updates after a reported $81 million was stolen by cybercriminals from Bangladesh Central Bank.

The 21st Century hackers are getting sophisticated with super-technological know-how, and always a step ahead of financial institutions.

According to a report from The Telegraph, Shane Shook [a banking security consultant] reveals it’s more profitable for hackers to attack banks considering the huge amounts that can be stolen.

“These hacks specifically target financial institutions because smaller efforts result in much larger thefts,” he said. “It’s much more efficient than stealing from consumers.”

It’s a fact yet to be proven that these hackers are sometimes, and mostly sponsored by rogue governments around the world but until such claims are proven beyond all reasonable doubts, it’ll be right to say that world economies aren’t safe any more.

With billions of dollars worth of interbank payments and clearances carried out each day, the recurring financial security hacks prove a point–that SWIFT’s claim on having an impenetrable secured system seem to be a hoax.

The financial institution says in its latest report that ‘Daily Validation Reports’ will be sent to clients starting from December, 2016.

According to a report from Atimes: “These would list the messages sent from the client’s SWIFT terminal, thus allowing a bank to spot any payment instructions that it had not intended to send.

“The report will also contain a risk report aimed at showing whether transfer instructions deviated from the client’s typical payment patterns.”

Just last year, a total of $12 million was hacked from one Columbian bank. The cybercriminals tracked and deleted all records of their frauulent transactions from banks’ terminals and the financial crime remained unnoticed for a few days.

Latest reports claim SWIFT has taken protective measures that’ll make it mandatory for all cash transfer controls, payments and e-banking channels to be constantly reviewed. The security upgrade includes employee checks, encrypted passwords and high-level cyber defences.

In addition, the Daily Validation Reports will hopefully prove a reliable defense mechanism in the sense that hackers who successfully gained access to bank terminals, will be unable to carry out effective cash transactions without attracting red flags that’ll enable the affected bank to cancel such transfers.

SWIFT says the foolproof daily records procedure will be sent to customers’ payments and compliance teams through a separate channel to the normal SWIFT terminal.

Notwithstanding every effort from the global financial powerhouse, some former SWIFT staff and clients reportedly think the organization has never been proactive in taking upgraded security measures against cybercriminals in recent years.

However, the Belgium-based conglomerate says it’s every bank’s  responsibility to secure their terminals, adding that a newly launched “Customer Security Programme” might be useful in helping smaller banks curb the high rate of hacking but it’s no guarantee in “legal terms”.

With that defensive stance taken by SWIFT, a look at Lloyds Bank‘s guarantee to customers against cybercriminals is highly commendable.

According to Bank Info Security, the British retail and commercial bank, offers the following online and mobile banking guarantee: “We guarantee to refund your money in the unlikely event you experience fraud with our Internet Banking service – as long as you’ve been careful, for example, by taking reasonable steps to keep your security information safe.”

“It would be nice to see the same reaction from SWIFT here,” Ricardo Villadiego, CEO of anti-fraud firm Easy Solutions said earlier in June.

SWIFT is a cooperative financial institution owned by over 3,000 banks generally referred to as the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication.

As the world’s leading provider of secure financial messaging services, SWIFT boasts of over 11,000 affiliated financial institutions, and is said to be processing about 25 million interbank communications on daily basis.