BT announces global launch of BT Assure Ethical Hacking for Finance service

This morning, BT announced the global launch of BT Assure Ethical Hacking for Finance, a new security service specifically designed to test the exposure of financial services organisations to cyber attacks.

The wealth of valuable and sensitive personal data held by financial organisations, among them retail and investor banks and insurance companies, makes them among the most attractive targets for today’s malicious hackers and cyber criminals. This risk has intensified in recent years as more and more retail financial services move into the online space and electronic trading is on the rise.

BT Assure Ethical Hacking for Finance uses mature methodologies that mimic those of ‘black hats’ or malicious attackers to provide a range of tests targeted at the various entry points to a bank’s IT systems as well as the perceived ‘weak points’ of an organisation. These include phishing scams, mobile devices and hardware from laptops to printers, internal and external networks, databases and complex enterprise resource planning systems.

BT not only tests and verifies systems that can access the network but also checks for risks of human failure, for example by using social engineering to test how employees apply the policies and procedures in place.

The new service draws on the ethical hacking expertise gained by BT’s close working with large financial institutions in the US across nearly two decades. Within the confines of strict rules of engagement, BT’s ethical hackers have been able to perform database dumps of tens of thousands of social security and credit card numbers, intercept and modify mobile cheque deposit data, reverse engineer proprietary encryption streams, generate enormous, valid gift cards with payment details from other test accounts, create admin accounts by having an employee simply open an e-mail, escape remote access sessions and gain shell access to systems (including the subsequent establishment of tunnels into the company), transfer funds between unauthorised test accounts or harvest complete account data for all users by attacking machine-to-machine communications.

The ultimate objective is to identify vulnerabilities that would impact an organisation’s primary business processes and, therefore, both its brand and reputation.

Simulated Targeted Attack and Response

The new BT Assure Ethical Hacking for Finance service will enable BT to use CREST ( certified Simulated Targeted Attack and Response (STAR) services to help financial services companies develop the most robust security solutions, ensuring sensitive customer data remains secure.

Mark Hughes: President of BT Security

Mark Hughes: President of BT Security

In 2014, BT was one of the first companies in the world accredited by CREST to provide STAR services.

Working alongside the Bank of England, UK Government and industry, CREST developed the STAR framework to deliver controlled, bespoke and intelligence-led cyber security testing. STAR incorporates advanced penetration testing and threat intelligence services to more accurately replicate cyber security threats to critical assets.

Speaking about this latest development, Mark Hughes (president of BT Security) informed Risk UK: “The prospect of accessing confidential financial information is a powerful lure for hackers. Few companies attract as much online criminal attention as banks. Apart from direct financial loss, a serious hack could lead to irreparable reputational damage. While much of the concern focuses on retail banking activities, the threat is just as important for investment banks or for wholesale, where banks provide services like currency conversion and large trade transactions for major corporate customers.”

Hughes added: “We encourage all financial institutions to put themselves through a rigorous series of cyber security simulations whereby our ethical hacking consultants push the cyber defences of financial institutions to the limit.”

BT has a strong, award-winning, global team of security specialists in place, including ethical hacking consultants who provide a standardised method to test systems by imitating hacker attacks, reporting identified vulnerabilities and providing clear remediation steps that customers can use to quickly patch applications and affected systems.

About the Author
Brian Sims BA (Hons) Hon FSyI, Editor, Risk UK (Pro-Activ Publications) Beginning his career in professional journalism at The Builder Group in March 1992, Brian was appointed Editor of Security Management Today in November 2000 having spent eight years in engineering journalism across two titles: Building Services Journal and Light & Lighting. In 2005, Brian received the BSIA Chairman’s Award for Promoting The Security Industry and, a year later, the Skills for Security Special Award for an Outstanding Contribution to the Security Business Sector. In 2008, Brian was The Security Institute’s nomination for the Association of Security Consultants’ highly prestigious Imbert Prize and, in 2013, was a nominated finalist for the Institute's George van Schalkwyk Award. An Honorary Fellow of The Security Institute, Brian serves as a Judge for the BSIA’s Security Personnel of the Year Awards and the Securitas Good Customer Award. Between 2008 and 2014, Brian pioneered the use of digital media across the security sector, including webinars and Audio Shows. Brian’s actively involved in 50-plus security groups on LinkedIn and hosts the popular Risk UK Twitter site. Brian is a frequent speaker on the conference circuit. He has organised and chaired conference programmes for both IFSEC International and ASIS International and has been published in the national media. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk UK at Pro-Activ Publications in July 2014 and as Editor of The Paper (Pro-Activ Publications' dedicated business newspaper for security professionals) in September 2015. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk Xtra at Pro-Activ Publications in May 2018.

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