Date
19 November 2017
Europol Director Robert Wainwright speaks during a talk at Web Summit, Europe's biggest tech conference, in Lisbon, on Wednesday. Photo: Reuters
Europol Director Robert Wainwright speaks during a talk at Web Summit, Europe's biggest tech conference, in Lisbon, on Wednesday. Photo: Reuters

Europol chief warns of growing cyber threats to financial sector

The “remorseless” growth of cyber-crime is leading to 4,000 ransom attacks a day, Europol chief said on Wednesday, warning that gangs’ technological capability now threatens critical parts of the financial sector.

Online criminals have become so sophisticated that gangs have created “conglomerations” with company structures that specialize in different criminal activities to carry out the attacks, Reuters quoted Rob Wainwright as saying on the sidelines of a conference in Lisbon.

“What really concerns me is the sophistication of the capability, which is becoming good enough to really threaten parts of our critical infrastructure, certainly in the financial, banking sector,” he said.

The financial services sector is seen as a key target because of the potential profits for the criminals, said Wainwright, who leads Europol, the EU law enforcement agency.

Even bank payment systems and ATM cash machines fall prey, he said.

The launch of ransomware attacks such as Wannacry, which struck firms around the world in May and June, has changed the dynamic of such attacks, by propagating them more widely through companies’ computer systems, Wainwright said.

“The real threat comes from a sort of exponential, remorseless increase in the scale and significance of cyber-criminal capability,” he was quoted as saying on the sidelines of the Web Summit technology conference.

Every year there now “seems to be a doubling, or tripling, of one kind of threat or another, in terms of scale”, Wainwright said.

The challenge of fighting cyber criminals is that they can be based “in their bedrooms”, making it difficult to find them, he said.

A majority of cyber criminals “we are working against are Russian speaking, not just Russian”, he said.

Russia denies it is involved in hacking.

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RC

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