Hackers could be planning massive attack on banks in 2013

Up to 30 U.S. national, investment and regional banks could be the victims of a massive fraud attack staged by hackers early in the new year, according to a new cyber security report.

Released by McAfee Labs, the report cautions banks to be suspicious of any software that makes phony online banking transactions. Hackers may be able to profit from online attacks by creating fraudulent transactions on the web or by scraping portions of large sums of money transferred online.

The Russia-based Project Blitzkrieg, a plan that hackers claim has been in the works for the last four years, is thought to be linked with the upcoming threat. $5 million have already been stolen as part of the lengthy project, and now the McAfee Labs report claims the attacks have made their way to the United States. In the past few months, there have already been 300 to 500 victims, said Pat Calhoun, a network security professional at McAfee labs.

Another cyber security firm, RSA, has in the past made similar claims that bolster the warnings of the McAfee report. RSA claimed Russian hacker “vorCzakone” was seeking accomplices for the “most substantial organized-banking Trojan operation seen to date.” However, there were beliefs that vorVzakone was just a law enforcement façade, as he publicly posted hacking plans online.

The McAfee report found that the threat is both real and growing. The software is particularly dangerous because it can imitate real bank transactions and also stop tracker e-mails used by consumers to pick up abnormal activity.

“It is a very clever way of doing something. It utilizes the same protocols designed to protect you to harm you,” said Hemanshu Nigam, chief executive of SSP Blue, an infosec firm.

The increased rate of cyberattacks in the U.S. in recent months could reach a pinnacle in 2013 if the McAfee report rings true. After the round of attacks on Bank of America and JPMorgan Chase this fall, it would not be surprising for hackers to utilize the information to go after more banks on a much larger scale in the coming months.

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