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These Financial IT Security links are part of a weekly series, Ethical Hacker Roundup, featuring the information security and cyber security related articles that we’ve read over and thought worth sharing from the past week.

These articles have were emailed to us, shared on Twitter @pivotpointsec, Google Plus and read in RSS subscriptions this week.


ZeuS Malware – Off With His Head!

Well, ZeuS has made headlines yet again. This time, however, Microsoft claims they have identified the servers powering the infamous malware.

If you don’t already know, ZeuS is responsible for many identity theft and bank draining attacks. In fact, not long ago ZeuS was used to steal $9,000 from a Salem County New Jersey bank. ZeuS also made it to the BBB’s Top 10 Consumer Scams by way of the NACHA phishing email.

ZeuS is a problem for Financial firms because it attacks customer accounts using keystroke logging, screen shots at relevant times to capture login credentials, modifies banking web pages to hide its activity and more.

Although Microsoft helped U.S. Marshals identify and raid the Illinois and Pennsylvania office buildings where ZeuS servers were held, it is likely that it is not the last we will see of the malware. If you are concerned that you are your organization may be vulnerable to a Zeus attack you may want to read Marc Silverman’s advice on handling ZeuS, What the ZeuS!

Mike Gargiullo’s article, Create and Setup an Ubuntu USB Live Drive, is also helpful as he walks through the steps of booting from a Ubuntu USB drive. See how you can safely visit your bank online without the worry of ZeuS.

When you’re finished reading the articles, check out this video from Microsoft’s Digital Cybercrime Unit on the Financial Industry Battle against ZeuS Botnets.


…and as it turns out, Microsoft was able to identify the servers behind ZeuS, but couldn’t identify the people behind the servers.

Heartland Realizes Return On Security Investment

In 2009, hackers breached Heartland Payment’s credit card system, processing millions of transactions. The incident caused a major impact in the company’s stock, dropping it from $17 to under $5 per share. Remarkably the stock is now at over $28 per share. That’s more than 550% growth in very little time.

I spoke with Mosi Platt, Lead Auditor at Pivot Point, to discuss this news. In true auditor nature, Mosi asked very important questions that companies need to answer before they are faced with a breach.

  • Can your organization withstand the financial impact of a security breach like Heartland did? If not, are effective security controls in place to limit the occurrence and impact of security breaches?
  • Can your organization recover from the financial impact of a security breach like Heartland (fines ballooned their debt to $85 million in 2010)? If not, are effective procedures in place for incident response to ensure business continuity after a security breach?

A key to both is early and effective detection of security incidents. Two promising advances to doing so are anomaly detection and malware behavior analysis. If Mosi’s questions gave you pause for concern – I would suggest you take a few minutes to get up to speed on these new techniques.

Financial IT Security

Arguably, beyond the government itself, no industry has a greater impact on the health of our economy than financial services. And nothing has a greater impact on a financial entity than to lose the confidence and trust of its customers. Your Financial IT Security concerns can and should be addressed by an independent and objective Information Assurance firm. Pivot Point Security can help your Financial Organization to know you’re secure and prove you’re compliant. See how we can help.