Security test prompts federal fraud alert

Robert McMillan of IDG News Service reports:

A sanctioned security test of a bank’s computer systems had some unexpected consequences this week, leading the federal agency that oversees U.S. credit unions to issue a fraud alert.

On Tuesday, the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) warned all federally insured credit unions of a bogus letter that an unnamed credit union had received along with two CDs. The bogus letter claimed that the CDs contained NCUA anti-fraud training materials, but in its fraud alert, NCUA warned that running the CDs “could result in a possible security breach to your computer system, or have other adverse consequences.”

Only it turned out that the CDs were not sent by fraudsters. They were sent by employees of MicroSolved, a Columbus, Ohio, security testing company. “It was a part of some social engineering we were doing in a fully sanctioned penetration test,” said MicroSolved CEO Brent Huston in an e-mail message.

Read more on Computerworld

It’s interesting (to me, anyway), that this type of information was immediately and correctly shared throughout the system to prevent fraud, whereas details of actual compromises that might help other institutions prevent compromises of their own do not seem to be shared quickly or fully. To the contrary, they are often kept under tight wraps. Following the Heartland Payment Systems breach, Heartland indicated that it would share specifics with others and called for greater information sharing. Is that actually happening?

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