COMMENT: Travelex Forced To Take Down Site Following Cyber Attack

Travelex has been forced to take down its website after a cyber attack, a decision that has affected other services that use its services, including Tesco Bank. 

The foreign-currency seller has been working on the issue since the software virus attack on New Year’s Eve. 

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Karl Sigler
Karl Sigler , Threat Intelligence Manager
InfoSec Expert
January 23, 2020 5:11 pm

As many were ringing in the new year, Travelex was forced to take a step back in time and handle foreign exchange services manually. The ransomware attack hit during one of the busiest travel seasons of the year, affecting travellers not only in the UK but in other countries as well. And travellers weren’t the only ones affected. Companies that use Travelex travel money services, including Asda and Tesco Bank were required to shut down their online travel money services.

As the end is only starting to come into sight for this costly and serious cyber-criminal threat, what can businesses do to minimise their risk of a costly and serious cyber-criminal threat and that of their customers?

It’s important to note that the size of the company is irrelevant. SMEs are exploited as frequently as larger organisations such as Travelex. The difference is in the limited manpower and expertise that smaller companies have at their disposal to proactively guard themselves. This is where partnering with an MSP that specialises in business continuity and disaster recovery (BCDR) technology is necessary.

Waiting to put safeguards in place should not even be an option. As the frequency of cyber-criminal attacks continue to rise, it’s more important than ever to have the right solution deployed. To ensure downtime is kept to an absolute minimum should an attack happen, businesses need the ability to quickly and easily recover files or even their business infrastructure. This is where the right BCDR technology solution can make all the difference.

Last edited 2 years ago by Karl Sigler
Colin Bastable
Colin Bastable , CEO
InfoSec Expert
January 3, 2020 1:06 pm

The Christmas/New Year period is ideal for phishing and other socially-engineered attacks – people are distracted, businesses are short-staffed and it is relatively easy to deliver a malware payload in a New Year-themed phishing email, or a fake year-end bonus email.

Travelex makes for a juicy target – it is somewhat surprising that they were breached, but at any given time, up to 30% of employees can easily fall for phishing attacks, which are responsible for over 90% of losses from cybersecurity breaches.

Last edited 2 years ago by Colin Bastable
Javvad Malik
Javvad Malik , Security Awareness Advocate
InfoSec Expert
January 3, 2020 1:04 pm

Details are very limited at this point as to what the cause of the attack was and to which extent Travelex systems have been impacted. The fact that the company can still conduct transactions over the counter would indicate that the attack is limited to the website and its functionality. Websites are the face of a company and are subject to the most attacks. It is important for companies to conduct regular security checks such as penetration testing, as well as vulnerability scan and regular assurance checks against the processing to ensure all public-facing aspects are up to date and running as secure as possible.

Not only does such an attack bring services down, but depending on the vulnerability exploited and the duration for which it goes undetected, it can impact customers too.

Last edited 2 years ago by Javvad Malik
Paul Bischoff
Paul Bischoff , Privacy Advocate
InfoSec Expert
January 3, 2020 12:55 pm

Travelex has been tight-lipped about the details of the virus so far. Given that no customer data was leaked, I suspect the attack was intended to disrupt services rather than covertly steal information. Data breaches usually happen quietly unbeknownst to the victim. Ransomware seems a likely culprit, but it\’s difficult to say without more details. While customer info seems to be safe, that doesn\’t mean their funds are. A shutdown like this can cause a lot of financial damage as a result of lost business, as well as reputational damage that can lead to other businesses breaking ties and looking elsewhere for Forex services.

Last edited 2 years ago by Paul Bischoff
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