Dangerous New Malware Targets Online Bank Accounts

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A virus called "GozNym" is targeting banks and online banking customers in a unique and effective way.

A virus called “GozNym” is targeting banks and online banking customers with “a new level of sophistication,” CNBC reports.

This malicious software, or malware, has already been used against banks in the U.S., Canada and Europe and has helped steal at least $4 million, Etay Maor, an executive adviser with IBM Security, tells CNBC.

Maor led the team that discovered GozNym. The malware is especially dangerous because it’s:

  • A combination of two pieces of malware. The first infects a computer. The second waits silently until a computer user visits a financial institution’s website. Then, the malware captures the user’s log-in information.
  • Harder for researchers to analyze. With this malware, hackers doubled the encryption, Maor says: “We’ve never seen this before.”
  • Harder for anti-virus software to detect. That means your computer could become infected without you knowing.

According to the trade publication American Banker, organized crime appears to have unleashed GozNym. IBM executive security adviser Limor Kessem tells American Banker:

“There might be a million malware strains, but there are only a few families that are active and dangerous and those principal malware families are owned by organized crime, so this could cause very heavy losses in online banking fraud.”

While GozNym might be more concerning or dangerous than most malware, many of the standard rules for protecting yourself still apply. CNBC’s tips for avoiding GozNym include:

  • Do not click on links in suspicious emails.
  • Keep your operating system and antivirus software up-to-date. CNBC reports that software companies are in the process of releasing updates intended to address GozNym.
  • Do not use the same password for multiple accounts. If hackers steal that password, they could access all of those accounts instead of just one. You can use a password manager to help keep you safer — but even that is not foolproof.
  • Establish a second way to check your financial account balances in addition to online banking — paper statements, ATM receipts or a mobile app, for example. CNBC reports that the criminals behind GozNym are so sophisticated they can change online banking websites to show full balances even after they have transferred funds out of an account.

What steps do you take to safeguard your online financial accounts? Let us know in our Forums. It’s a place where you can swap questions and answers on money-related matters, life hacks and ingenious ways to save.

Stacy Johnson

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