Cyberwar claims Belgian bank victims

Reports that hacking gangs have struck at least three Belgian banks have sent ripples through financial circles...

First indications suggest that a Russian criminal gang may have been responsible for the hackings that have caused at least 15 clients to have suffered considerable losses.

Although the hackings had been conducted in May 2007 already, banks were reluctant to release details. One of the major banks now denies that its systems had been hacked and suggests that the problem may lie with the lack of proper security on clients’ own computers.

Fact remains that the security and confidentiality of banking networks have been shown to be vulnerable and according to research conducted by Belgian IT security company, Scanit, the problem may well lie with the reliability of the security provisions of major Internet browsers such as Internet Explorer, Firefox and Opera.

According to Steven Van Reempts, Managing Director of Scanit, several popular browsers that have been tested by Scanit, revealed serious security risks and vulnerabilities.

Security problems are discovered regularly on all commonly used web browsers. In our experience, a large proportion of the users are unaware of those problems.

Their browsers remain unpatched and insecure and are routinely abused by hackers, viruses and worms”. Home users’ PC’s can serve as points of entry to attack commercial institutions, but a properly secured browser will reduce the risks of attacks considerably.

Insecure browsers open the doors for viruses, theft of personal data and hacking; allowing hackers easier access to create platforms from which to attack banks or other commercial institutions.

So far in 2007 Microsoft has released 15 critical security updates for bugs exploitable over the web in Internet Explorer and other Microsoft software and Mozilla has released seven for Firefox.

Is this enough? Van Reempts believes not: “Our research highlights the fact that browser security is still highly vulnerable.

There is, off course, a lot the home user can do to counter the risk by keeping his browser and other software up to date by downloading and installing patches and updates regularly. To assist exposed clients and users we at Scanit have developed a Browser Security Test, featuring a sophisticated test engine that helps protect users against most browser hacks.”

Scanit has been offering this service free for over five yea

rs now, running over three quarters of a million tests to date.

Scanit specialises in IT security testing. Their penetration test poses a simulation of a hacker attack on the company to identify and vividly demonstrate the users’ IT security risks.

In addition they do network security assessments to provide a detailed picture of the level of security of the customer's networks, and web application security testing for a variety of web applications.

Through their specialist staff they also provide training of staff in the protection of IT and telecommunication systems.

To test your browser for vulnerabilities, click here: http://bcheck.scanit.be/bcheck