Cyber Security Risks In Social Media Banking

Cyber Security Risks In Social Media
Social Media is the most used platform on day-to-day basis by millions of people around the
Social media banking is the usage of social platforms such as Facebook, twitter, WhatsApp
for Marketing, communication, for collecting feedback and reactions and to perform Banking
Operations such as Transactions, Account summary and status enquiry, etc. We have
observed using social media as a platform in 2 ways.
1. Non-Banking Operations – Marketing, Branding, Feedback, Business Analysis.
2. Banking Operations – Transactions, Communications and alerts, Account summary,
status of the account or cards, reporting fraud/stolen card details etc.
Use cases of Social Media Banking
1. Global Banks Using Twitter for Banking:
Money can be sent using twitter accounts connected to Bank accounts, or it would have
other options of receiving and sharing passcode and OTP with the receiver for authorizing a
2. WhatsApp Banking service:
Absa Banking app (Africa) has introduced WhatsApp Banking to help customer receive
updates or avail services via the WhatsApp messaging platform. On typing Help as a
message, you can find out the full list of services available on WhatsApp. It is easy to use—
simply type a keyword like or type the number against the service like “1” and follow the
steps on screen.
3. CaixaBank Facebook Banking Application:
CaixaBank has launched a Facebook application that allows users to view their bank
accounts and perform transactions via the social network. This is the first platform of its kind
from a European bank, allowing customers to check account balances, make micro-
donations and contract personalized card services. The new CaixaBank service for
Facebook will also provide quick access to the bank’s primary online channel, Linea
Abierta. Once activated, users can open the application via their personal profile or the
bank’s Facebook page. Users will have to enter their Linea Abierta username and password
each time the service is opened, as the service is located in a fully secure and private
environment that can only be opened by each customer. At no time will Facebook have
access to any personal or bank information.
Example: Australian Common Wealth bank using Facebook and other Banks using
Organizational Risks Associated with Social Media Banking:
The Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council (FFIEC) specifically for these social
media banking issues created the “Social Media: Consumer Compliance Risk Management
Risk Areas for Social Media banking are as follows.
1. Compliance and Legal Risks
2. Reputation Risk
3. Operational Risk
Control: Financial institutions should consider the use of social media monitoring tools and
techniques to identify heightened risk, and respond appropriately. Financial institutions
should have appropriate policies in place to monitor and address in a timely manner the
fraudulent use of the financial institution’s brand, such as through phishing or spoofing
Instances of Social Media Attacks and Breaches:
Phishing Direct Message Sent to Customers from Compromised Brand Account
Timeline: September 2011
Tactic: Account Takeover, Targeted Phishing & Malware
Summary: In September of 2011, an Australian bank suffered the worst-case scenario for
an account takeover, in which attackers didn’t immediately vandalize the account or post
inflammatory messages, but instead sent direct messages to followers asking them to
disclose sensitive financial institutions. While most account hacks are merely embarrassing
and costly from a brand and public relations perspective, they can also be used for large
scale cyberattack against a brand’s most loyal and engaged followers.
Vevo Hacked Via Targeted LinkedIn Phishing Attack, 3.12TB Exfiltrated
Timeline: September 2017
Tactic: Targeted Phishing & Malware
Summary: Streaming service Vevo suffered a breach when one of its employees was
phished via LinkedIn. Hackers were able to obtain and publicly release 3.12TB worth of the
company’s sensitive internal data. The professional social network allows attackers to
rapidly identify their target at a specific organization and send them a personalized
message, all under the auspices of professional networking or recruitment.
Fake Social Media Persona Sends Malware to Employees Via Social Media
Timeline: July 2017
Tactic: Targeted Phishing/Malware, Fraudulent Accounts
Summary: Attackers created an incredibly compelling fake persona, a London-based
photographer named Mia Ash, and connected with corporate employees. The attacker
disseminated a Remote Access Trojan (RAT), called PupyRAT, via these social media
honeypot accounts to hijack the controls of victims’ devices. The persona had accounts
across several popular social networks.
10k US Government Employees Spearphished with Malware-Laced Posts
Timeline: Early 2017
Tactic: Targeted Phishing/Malware, Fraudulent Accounts
Summary: In early 2017, Russian operatives sent over 10,000 custom phishing messages
via social media, each link laced with malware enabling the attacker to access and control
the victim’s device. This attack represents a major advancement in cyber capabilities and
an escalation in Russia’s cyberwar against the US. This is the most well-organized,
coordinated attack at the nation-state level we’ve ever seen.
3rd Party App Leads to Hundreds of High-Profile Account Compromises
Timeline: March 2017
Tactic: Account Takeover
Summary: A vulnerability in a 3rd-party app called Twitter Counter allowed Turkishlanguage attackers to hijack controls of hundreds of high-profile accounts. They posted
aggressive messages against the Netherlands after a contentious week of deteriorating
relations between the Netherlands and Turkey and pivotal elections in both countries. The
posts used swastikas and called the Dutch “nazis.” The breached accounts included a
number of global brands and well-followed, verified accounts, including Forbes, the official
Bitcoin Blockchain account, Starbucks, the European Parliament, UNICEF, Nike and
Amnesty International.
Financial Crime Runs Rampant on Social Networks
Timeline: August 2016
Tactic: Fraud & Scams
Summary: ZeroFOX researchers revealed the vast underground world of financial crime on
social media, in which scammers prey on the followers of verified banks with fraudulent
financial services offerings, including card cracking and money flipping. The scale of the
problem is massive, with nearly a quarter-million posts for a single type of scam on a single
social network. The problem was found on every major social media channel and results in
hundreds of millions of dollars in losses annually.
Imagine if a cybercriminal blasted your 1000+ followers with a fake coupon (“2018/9 season
50% cashback for the next 30 minutes! #discount #Cashback #zerointerest
#Zerodownpayment #football”) appended with the latest and greatest malware. Imagine the
cataclysmic fallout of a cybercrime at the scale and speed of social media.
Social media banking is exposed to modern threat vector risks that can be reduced by
implementing risk monitoring and remediation technology, security controls with
The most Impactful attacks observed are third party apps compromised, targeted Phishing,
malware, fraudulent accounts and the least impactful of social attacks, account takeovers,
are often relatively harmless vandalism and trolling.
10 Best ways to reduce Risks Associated with Social Media Banking
1. Monitor social media and digital channels for business and security risks. Continuously
watch for phishing links, fraudulent accounts, scams and more. A digital risk monitoring
solution can be used for this purpose.
2. Ensure Multi-factor authentication is enabled.
3. Security professionals should train employees on what information should or should not
be posted or visible to the public.
4. Work with marketing to gain access to social accounts and keep a close eye on social
media initiatives and campaigns
5. Continuously monitor corporate social media accounts for cyber threats
6. Blacklist/block malicious URLs and IPs found on social media.
7. Establish workflow for dealing with social media cybercrime targeting the organization.
8. Takedown malicious posts and profiles.
9. Test employees on susceptibility to social media cyberattacks.
10. Train employees on safe usage, best practices, and what to do in the event of an attack
Resources followed for the article:
FFIEC document for Risk Identified and management of risk using social media for
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