a link out to a banking fraud case study

Chief Monkey has linked to an excellent case study in corporate banking fraud. The story takes a few pages to work into the juicier details, but it is worth the burn to get through it.

The network still has a perimeter, but the business and its users have less of a perimeter. If you can check email from any system, than your email password can be snarfed by any of those systems if they’ve been victimized by a drive-by trojan. This can often lead to further attacks, even up to logging into a VPN session from a remote location! People like to think of one-time attacks and siphoning of valuable data, but few think about an attacker looking over your shoulder and reading your emails and data continually.

I wonder if the VP in the story had any personal fraud attacks against her as well, or if the company account was the juicier target. In the end, yes, home users (and their systems and networks) elevate my nervousness considerably.

My only bit of caution would be to anyone who starts crucifying banks too much about their security. There is no measure that will magically protect against fraud. It is entirely a scale between security and usability. Some banks fall low on that scale and get burned (hopefully!) for it. Other banks may slide up the scale too far only to get burned because they’re slowing down, flagging, or outright blocking abnormal but legitimate transactions for important customers. What do you do in those cases? Given different perspectives, I think most people would opt for the least economically costly options from their respective perspectives. Just think about that for a while… People complain about bank security, only up to a point where it inconveniences them too much, then complain more when it still fails, and so on. That’s not a rhetorical game I like to play…(maybe I just like to play a few more moves ahead, I dunno…)

I’m not trying to defend lax, or even negligent, bank security so much as I want to attack overzealous sunday morning security quarterbacking that just perpetuates the problem of a wildly swinging security pendulum that can’t find any peaceful middle ground.