The notorious cyber attack against the Bank of Bangladesh in 2016 caused the SWIFT co-operative to launch their Customer Security Program to drive industry-wide collaboration against the cyber threat and to help reinforce the security of the wider ecosystem. So, what have we learnt after three years?

The trends, published by SWIFT, point to increasing sophistication of attacks designed to fly under the radar of detection mechanisms and increase the dwell time of malicious actors. The Bank of Bangladesh cyber heist was akin to Hatton Garden style smash and grab. $101,000,000 was exfiltrated from the payments system in the dead of night. However, the study shows that the transaction values for fraud have declined in an effort to go unnoticed. Furthermore, in an effort to appear as normal transactions these attacks are now being carried out, not in the dead of night, but during normal banking hours. Lastly cyber criminals are spending longer carrying our reconnaissance, waiting months to pinpoint vulnerabilities and find necessary exploits.

Clearly the cyber threat to financial institutions is showing no signs of abating. Organisations need better visibility and granularity into the specific traffic flows governing their payment systems in real-time. This kind of vigilance is the best defence.