Security Advisor

Hackers' Lives Made Easier Thanks to the Cloud

It was only a matter of time before cyber criminals jumped on the cloud bandwagon. And with a recent banking scam that has stolen an estimated $2.5 billion, looks like they are "all in."

The gist of the latest attack, which started in Europe last year and is now making its way to the U.S., is that once hackers get their code talons in a bank's cloud-based server, multiple attacks can take place with little human intervention, thanks to  automation measures written in the worm.

This attack malware, coined High Roller in the joint study by McAfee and Guardian Analytics, shows a significant shift in how hackers are operating. In the past, when trying to virtually smash and grab money, customers were the main target – it's a lot easier to remotely swipe a user's password then to break into a financial institution to get access to the server.

But now that many servers have transitioned into the cloud, why go after one customer when you can have access to ALL customer info with one hack? And in the case of High Roller, once they're in, they can sit back and let the worm automatically search and destroy the ideal targets (another new occurrence for hackers).

While concerns relating to just these types of security incidents were brought up the second  someone coined the phrase "cloud computing," it's all part of the natural process of technology: new tech is integrated, hackers figure out how to exploit it, security firms figure out how to counter them.

And in most cases (along with this incident), the advice given to counter is to make sure you're always following strong and safe security practices. The weaker you are, the easier prey you become.

About the Author

Chris Paoli is the site producer for and

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Reader Comments:

Tue, Jul 24, 2012 Jason Segale HB, CA

I somewhat agree with John Herman's comments...but realize that not everything can be accounted for...especially human ingenuity and creative thinking after the initial design. Even the best plans are not always perfect and nothing is 100% safe when we are talking about digital information as there is always another perspective to be had just over the horizon. The one thing I have learned is that nothing is constant but change and even though its not always pretty, the reality is without these types of events...innovation would perhaps not be so...well... innovative!

Thu, Jun 28, 2012 Mary Michigan

More to the question is why is it that it always seems to be the financial institutions that lag behind in adopting good security practices? They are so resistant to implementing things like chip and pin (in the US), encryption, and safe data practices.

Thu, Jun 28, 2012 John Herman USA

Why is it always that the new IT innovation comes out, and the security is fixed later? Is it all "time to market"? Seems like the security, like the quality, should be built into the product, not slapped on afterward.

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