Cybercrimes cost $12 million
Losses from financial cybercrimes widened more than 13 times over three years to reach $12 million last year, according to the Central Bank’s Special Investigation Commission (SIC). The losses totaled nearly $900,000 in 2013.
These represented the reported cases only and the actual figures could be much higher, said Abdul Hafiz Mansour, SIC’s Secretary General. There were 84 reported cases of financial cybercrimes in 2015 compared with just eight in 2013.
Hackers are increasingly targeting the country because it is a thriving financial hub and because businesspeople are not taking enough precautions due to lack of awareness, he said.
About 80 percent of cases of reported financial cybercrimes hit individuals and institutions who do not carry out their import transactions through the banking system by opening letters of credit, Mansour said. Hackers, for example send fraudulent emails posing as exporters and asking local importers to transfer money to specific accounts. Money stolen in these cases is almost impossible to recover as it is transferred very quickly to international accounts, he said. Mansour urged traders to be extremely cautious when they use the Internet for their overseas deals. They should immediately double-check with the exporter when they send an email, he said.
The remaining cases of financial cybercrimes occur when banks and financial institutions fall victim to fraudulent activities. Criminals may send money transfer orders through emails using the name of a bank’s customer by making unnoticeable changes to the customer’s email address.
The Central Bank plans to issue a circular to banks about best practices to be adopted to reduce the risks of financial cybercrimes. Workshops and public awareness campaigns will also be launched for this purpose.
SIC has recommended banks to provide continuous training sessions to their employees and to always upgrade their information security systems.
Reported by Shikrallah Nakhoul
Date Posted: Jan 15, 2016