Bank-of-Montreal building

TARGET: Two Major Canadian Banks Breached

Two Canadian banks claim to have been breached by attackers this week. Simplii Financial which is owned by CIBC, has claimed that it may have lost personal and account information for over 40,000 bank customers. The Bank of Montreal then followed this news by claiming that they too had been breached and lost up to 50,000 individuals’ personal and account information.

The attackers had tipped off both banks that they possessed the data and threatened to take the information public if they were not paid one million dollars worth of cryptocurrency each. Based on the nature of the situation, both banks decided to go public and not give in to the attacker’s demands.

The attacker’s actions are unusual compared to recent trend of events. Most recent “ransom” attacks have involved gaining control of assets within an organization and then encrypting the contents held within those assets using ransomware. In this particular attack, the attackers attempted to blackmail the banks by threatening to release information regarding the breach if the banks did not pay up.

The method of how the banks were breached are unknown at this time. It is suspected that the attackers may have targeted some type of account reset feature held on servers that store user account information. They may have then used an application that had some type of algorithm that could access bank account numbers and then systematically pull user account information.

Proficio Threat Intelligence Recommendations:

  • Ensure the application security of password reset features on relevant applications
  • Enforce strict access controls and monitoring against assets that hold personal user information, especially banking applications that may hold bank account information.

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