In today’s world, all industries have found ways to adapt to the digital landscape. In the Banking and Finance sector applications and functions such as online banking, banking apps, biometrics, and blockchain are becoming more popular as they enable banks and their customers to use their systems through online browsers and mobile apps. 

While this has simplified how customers interact with banking services and make payments, malicious apps that disrupt the online security and privacy of organizations and customers alike, have made online bankers vulnerable to cyber-attacks.

Hackers have found ways to lure customers into sharing their personal and banking information without their immediate knowledge, and one of the latest ways they do this is through malicious applications disguised as legitimate services or third-party payment software.

It was recently discovered that the users of eight particular Malaysian banks including RHB Bank, Affin Bank Berhad, and Bank Islam Malaysia, are being targeted as part of an ongoing scam using malicious apps to pose as service providers to Malaysian consumers. Some of the service providers imitated by the attackers included several Malaysian cleaning services and a pet shop named PetsMore.

In 2021, it was recorded by MYCERT (Malaysia Computer Emergency Response Team) that a total of 10,061 cyber-attacks took place in Malaysia. Of these cyber-attacks, it is estimated that 71% were fraud related. This number is expected to rise with the Malaysia-focused banking fraud scheme being one such cyber-attack taking place. We can conclude that the attacks on the Banking and Finance sector will continue to expand not only to other banks but to other countries as well.

What Are Malicious Apps? How Do They Work? Who Is at Risk of Being Targeted?

According to a research paper by various authors titled: The World of Malware: An Overview, “Malware, short for malicious software is a program code that is hostile and often used to corrupt or misuse a system. Introducing malware into a computer network environment has different effects depending on the design intent of the malware and the network layout.”

In the Banking and Finance sector, the intent of these apps is to retrieve the banking credentials of customers such as those of the Malaysian banks. This is done by intercepting the traffic to online banking platforms by pretending to be official applications deployed by the banks.

Hackers rely on the common use of well-known banking and financial services and goods to trick unfortunate citizens into installing their malware. The hackers direct the customers to what seems to be the Google Play Store but is in fact a range of servers used by the attackers to retrieve the users’ credentials. 

Furthermore, these malicious applications also intercept One-Time-Pins (OTPs) that allow them the user verification needed to access certain accounts. This means that even if one does not provide all their credentials, with an OTP the attackers can use minimal information to gain access to the profiles linked to the information they need.

While attacks currently target the customers of the eight banks, the number of cyberattacks against other financial institutions will inevitably increase. Attackers will continue to search for vulnerabilities both amongst customers and within financial organizations.

Are There Solutions to Mitigate Malicious Apps?

The Banking and Finance sector and their customers have long recognized the benefits of going digital. More and more services are being deployed to improve the customer experience so that financial institutions can remain strong and relevant. However, the ubiquities of online systems also present a surge in emerging threats not only against banking and financing customers but also to the organizations themselves. 

This means organizations must find ways not only to combat these threats but more importantly, to prepare for them.

Among the various types of cyber-attacks that businesses and consumers easily fall prey to, the use of malicious applications that pretend to be legitimate, referred to as Trojan software, is ever increasing. This form of a cyber-attack can be prevented through increasing awareness and education amongst all users of any banks being targeted.

Another solution would be using cybersecurity solutions such as Sangfor’s Application Containment which leverages NGAF Firewall Platform, IAG Secure Web Gateway (SWG),  Endpoint Secure or Sangfor Access (SASE) to block unauthorized or malicious apps from running. Endpoint Secure is specifically designed to regularly scan computers for any potential malicious apps and eliminate them.

IAG is also important for any business that makes apps available for use by their customers. Through application control, IT administrators have an overview of the behavior of an application as well as the traffic flow, network security, and overall performance of the app, providing full transparency and auditing to organizations.

Current Sangfor clients in the Banking and Finance industry such as JS Bank, make use of Sangfor's VDI solution (Virtual Desktop Infrastructure) to house and protect their data and control all network connections. This is especially important for any organization wishing to prevent breaches by foreign intruders.

Sangfor has a wide range of Cyber Security solutions, products, and services that establish the necessary security infrastructure to prevent cyber-attacks within the Banking and Finance industry, making Sangfor a key partner for anyone in process of digital transformation.

Why Sangfor?

With over 100,000 customers worldwide, Sangfor Technologies is a high-performance, trustworthy global vendor of Cyber Security, Cloud and, Infrastructure products. Dedicated to constantly developing innovative and cost-effective cybersecurity solutions tailored to the digital needs of organizations, Sangfor makes for a smooth digital transition and a safer network environment. Discover more on our website www.sangfor.com.


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