Expert says Armenia’s banking sector still vulnerable to hacker attacks

Armenia’s banking sector is very vulnerable to hacker attacks, Armen Karapetyan, representative of Kaspersky Lab in Armenia and Georgia, told reporters on Monday.

According to him, about a month ago, Armenia’s banking sector had come under a targeted attack, but it was prevented and localized with the assistance of Kaspersky Lab experts, otherwise it could have had serious consequences.

He said this incident is an indication that Armenia’s banking sector needs to be modernized to be immune against such attacks and the Central Bank should reconsider its cyber security requirements.

“The Central Bank is the body that develops the rules of the game for banks, but in my opinion its steps are often late, in particular, there is still no mandatory requirement for a regular vulnerability test,” Karapetyan said.

He said also the banks should allocate more money for improving their security, since this system needs constant updating.

“Hackers are constantly improving; if a few years ago a new virus was created every one hour, now 310,000 viruses are created each day, not counting the modifications of old viruses, while the Armenian banking sector is slow, falling behind , apparently due to lack of real threat and fear,” Karapetyan said.
According to him, security measures require a radical revision, and though cyber security experts have the necessary knowledge, bank managers often fail to realize the need for stepping up the cyber security.

In his words, the cost of such expenses is not great. As an example, he cited last year’s incident, when 130 million drams were stolen from Armenian ATMs. The money was withdrawn by a virus sent to banks as emails, which after infecting computers, enabled hackers to take control of servers and ATM data.

“The problem is that this was one of the simplest ways to steal money, however, the banks’ security systems did not react, also due to lack of necessary updates,” Karapetyan said.


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