Bank breaches highlights rise of cyber threats as new exploitation strategies emerge

Apparent attempts to extort two major Canadian banks is highlighting the increasing threat and variety of cyberattacks against major companies.

The attacks against BMO and CIBC-owned Simplii, where data from up to 90,000 clients may have been stolen, are the latest in a number of high-profile ransom attacks and has prompted banking officials to try and reassure the public about the safety of their accounts.

Cybersecurity expert Satyamoorthy Kabilan at the Conference Board of Canada says cyber incidents overall are skyrocketing and companies need to work to improve resiliency in the event of attack.

He says BMO and Simplii did the right thing by being public with their disclosures of the breach, in which hackers claimed to have obtained sensitive data, but the incident shows the multitude of ways companies may be targeted.

Scotiabank CFO Sean McGuckin said on a media conference call discussing its quarterly results that Canadian financial institutions have a very open dialogue around cyber threats and the bank continues to make investments to protect customer privacy.

The apparent extortion attempt against BMO and CIBC’s direct-banking brand Simplii comes after a string of major hacking incidents including Uber’s attempt to pay off hackers and credit agency Equifax suffering a major international data breach.