US expert commends Lankan bank officer who thwarted global money laundering attempt

It has been found that cyber-crimes across the world have shot up drastically in the past few years compromising the security of many organisations.

According to the Economic Crime Survey data, cyber-crimes have now jumped to the second place globally with hackers being available to extract vulnerable and confidential information from computers scattered across the globe for criminal activity and 54 per cent of organisations have been hit by cyber-crimes in the last two years.

This information emerged when Jake Williams, a US world renowned computer science and information security expert, delivered a lecture on the topic of “Analytical Approach for Cyber in Financial Industry” at the APIT Graduate School Campus Auditorium in Colombo last week.

Mr. Williams said there is a huge, emerging market and a demand for cyber security network especially in Sri Lanka’s financial sector. “We do a lot of security testing for large banks in the United States and have had discussions with several local banks to work with them.”

Cyber security is definitely a challenge affecting many financial organisations and new models have to be developed to be applied to all sectors to prevent hackers gaining access to other computers. “We have seen Wikileaks attacking the CIA which is a treasure trove for attackers. What we see is only the tip of the iceberg.”
He said what was important in cyber security is to identify the 70,000 patterns that attackers use. But one would never find out without data analysts looking into various hacking procedures.

Referring to the (central) bank (cyber) heist in Bangladesh, he said hackers were able to transfer a lot of money out of the country but they were caught in the nick of time before they transferred billions of US dollars out of the country.

The detection was made by an alert officer paying attention to detail. The hackers were caught after making a tiny mistake when they attempted to transfer the money into a fake organization.

The hackers had initially got away when they transferred US$80 million out of the country. But when they made a further attempt to transfer billions of dollars out of the country it was foiled when hackers misspelt the name of the foundation. The alert bank officer suspicious of the misspelt organisation wanted to double check before he transferred billions of dollars into that account.

Mr. Williams said although there were anti hacking cyber systems in place, none of it could have prevented the fraud happening if diligence was not shown by the officer. He said US companies who have built up the Internet have decades of experience to prevent cyber security intrusions. Referring to the future Colombo Port City project being built, he said it is going to take away billion of US dollars from a neighbouring economy which hackers will try to prevent. He said Bangladesh was the last place where one would expect hackers to attack. “It was because they had a lot of money but had a bad security system in place. Singapore overhauled their data security network recently and Hong Kong was to follow soon.”

Mr. Williams is the founder and a Consultant of the Rendition and Infosec and EGUARDIAN Global Services. He has decades of experience in secure network design penetration testing and forensic engineering. He is one of the best cyber security experts in the world having worked with numerous government institutions such as the National Security Agency as a technical director and at the CIA. He was awarded the highest civilian honour by the Department of Defence in the US.

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