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A survey by Yle, Finland’s national public broadcasting company, revealed that all of Finland’s major banks reported attempts to break into online accounts.
Detective Chief Inspector Timo Piiroinen of Finland’s National Bureau of Investigation said, “I can’t comment on specifics, but there have been more than 100 successful breaches.”
Kai Koskela, Director of Online Services for OP-Pohjola, Finland’s leading financial services group, noted that even the most up-to-date home computer security software has been unable to stop the attacks. “Of course virus protection helps, but recently there have been programs that the virus protection software has not detected.” And, Koskela says cyberthieves have been successful in stealing amounts ranging from tens to thousands of Euros.
Prior to last winter, attacks had been sporadic. Now, Sampo Bank reports that they happen daily.
Finland’s largest bank, Nordea, says the attacks are primarily aimed at home computers, hundreds of which have been infected. Just a few years ago, some 100 Nordea customers lost 1.2 million Euros to cybercriminals. (Officials recovered all, but 200,000.)
Aktia Bank revealed that it’s currently investigating network breaches and that there have also been phishing attacks aimed at collecting customers’ bank codes.
S-Bank, which suspects about two dozen malware programs have been used in various attacks, said two of its customers have lost a total of 1,000 Euros.
Because Finland’s online criminal activity usually involves cross-border groups, tracking cybercriminals is not easy. In addition, malware is constantly evolving and becoming more sophisticated.
Detective Chief Inspector Piiroinen puts it on financial institutions and their customers to be vigilant. “This kind of criminal activity has come to Finland, and only alert action by banks and customers will rein it in.”
While the attacks and amounts stolen may be small by U.S. standards, for example, they are huge to a country with a population of less than six million. So how does a small nation with limited resources fight back – especially when the threat lies beyond its borders?