Intricacy urged in cybercrime battle

September 28, 2023 | 14:51
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As criminals exploit advanced technologies, both banks and customers face amplified risks, necessitating collaborative and advanced countermeasures.
Intricacy urged in cybercrime battle
Intricacy urged in cybercrime battle, illustration photo/ Source:

Lt. Col. Cao Viet Hung, deputy chief of the Department 4-A05 of the Ministry of Public Security (MPS), highlighted the increasing sophistication of cybercriminals at last week’s seminar on the issue in Ho Chi Minh City.

Modern criminals are leveraging cutting-edge achievements such as deepfake and deep-voice technologies to facilitate illicit activities, with banks and their customers frequently being targeted, Hung explained.

“Take for instance a case in Ho Chi Minh City where a customer opened an online savings account with a mere VND1 million ($42),” said Hung. “As per bank regulations, with a deposit of that amount, a customer can borrow up to $36. However, this individual exploited the bank’s financial system to illicitly transfer VND10.5 billion ($442,200) to their personal account.”

Furthermore, Hung described the techniques cybercriminals deploy against banks: scanning systems, searching for vulnerabilities, and launching malicious software attacks. As for customers, they are continuously being targeted through a range of evolving tactics.

“Many experts suggest that these criminals often attack the weakest link: the end consumer,” he added.

Nguyen Tran Nam, digital banking director at ACB, said that in the past three years, banks have observed a surge in online scams that employ high-tech means, seizing money directly from bank accounts.

“Starting earlier this year, fraudsters in Vietnam have begun to imitate tax and social insurance apps, embedding them with malware designed to monitor and steal transaction information,” Nam said.

He also highlighted that hackers are exploiting a feature in the Android operating system called Accessibility. Originally designed to aid vulnerable users, such as the elderly or those with disabilities, this feature has been misused to record users’ behaviours and remotely control their devices.

“The modus operandi involves luring the customer to click a link and download a malicious app. This app might imitate public services or be disguised as job-seeking platforms or even games,” Nam warned. “Once the fake app gets the required permissions, it begins to track login details every time the customer accesses their banking app. Armed with this information, the hackers wait for the opportune moment to remotely access and transfer funds.”

Ngo Tan Vu Khanh, country director of Kaspersky in Vietnam, also raised concerns about the current cybersecurity landscape in the nation. “While banks in Vietnam are fully equipped with security measures, from operational systems to ensuring transactional safety, the users have become the weak link, often lacking adequate tools to guard against scams,” Khanh pointed out.

La Anh Dung, deputy director of the Department of Payments at the State Bank of Vietnam (SBV), emphasised the extensive damage online scams inflict on customers and the substantial challenges they pose to regulatory authorities and banks. He voiced concerns over eroded customer trust and the reputational risks for banks, alongside the significant costs of combating these threats.

“The handling of such fraud is intricate. Curtailing online scams and fraud requires concerted efforts from various stakeholders, including both banks and customers,” Dung commented. “The SBV has collaborated with the MPS to integrate national demographic data for customer credit verification.”

Dung further mentioned that the SBV is working with the Ministry of Information and Communications to clean up and align the data of online bank account holders with mobile subscriber data.

“Statistically, 90 per cent of interbank transfers are below $420, while only 10 per cent exceed this amount,” he stated. “Hence, there’s a forthcoming regulation to mandate biometric verification (via fingerprints or facial recognition) for interbank transfers, likely for amounts around that figure. This would also help counter the longstanding issue of buying, selling, or renting bank accounts.”

Meanwhile, Doan Thanh Hai, deputy director of the SBV’s Department of Information and Technology, disclosed that the government is executing an initiative, spearheaded by the MPS and in coordination with the SBV, which aims to align bank data with national demographic databases.

“Cleaning the data is vital for counter-criminal operations and minimising risks in payment activities,” Hai said.

Hung of the MPS also emphasised the necessity for strengthened collaboration between the ministry, the SBV, and payment service providers to develop a collaborative procedure that limits the misuse of bank accounts and digital wallets. “Crucially, stronger regulations against the buying and selling of bank accounts are imperative to prevent scams,” Hung said.

Local cybercrime threats on the rise Local cybercrime threats on the rise

Though the quick advancement of fintech has helped cashless payments increase in Vietnam, it has also created a fertile land for cyber-criminals to exploit. Luu Phuong reports.

By Celine Luu

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