Citing cybercrime, FBI director doesn't bank online

Robert Mueller was recently targeted by phishers

The head of the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation has stopped banking online after nearly falling for a phishing attempt.

FBI Director Robert Mueller said he recently came "just a few clicks away from falling into a classic Internet phishing scam" after receiving an e-mail that appeared to be from his bank.

"It looked pretty legitimate," Mueller said Wednesday in a speech at San Francisco's Commonwealth Club. "They had mimicked the e-mails that the bank would ordinarily send out to its customers; they'd mimicked them very well."

In phishing scams, criminals send spam e-mails to their victims, hoping to trick them into entering sensitive information such as usernames and passwords at fake Web sites.

Though he stopped before handing over any sensitive information, the incident put an end to Mueller's online banking.

"After changing our passwords, I tried to pass the incident off to my wife ... as a teachable moment," he said. "To which she deftly replied, 'Well, it is not my teachable moment. However, it is our money. No more Internet banking for you."

Mueller said he considers online banking "very safe" but that "just in my household, we don't use it."

Phishing has evolved into a big problem, not just for banks, but for online retailers and even providers of consumer Web applications such as Facebook and Yahoo.

In June -- the latest month for which figures are available -- the Anti-Phishing Working Group counted nearly 50,000 active phishing Web sites, the second-highest number it has ever recorded.

Late last week, criminals posted tens of thousands of passwords belonging to Microsoft Live Hotmail, Gmail, and Yahoo accounts online. They are all thought to have been stolen via phishing.

Mueller's FBI has had some success in going after phishers. On Wednesday it announced it had arrested 33 people in the U.S. in connection with an international phishing operation. Egyptian authorities have charged 47 in connection with the same scam.

"They targeted American financial institutions and also approximately 5,000 American citizens here in the United States," Mueller said. Dubbed Operation Phish Phry, "it is the largest international phishing case ever conducted," he added.

"Far too little attention has been paid to cyber threats and their consequences," Mueller said. "Intruders are reaching into our networks every day looking for valuable information. Unfortunately they're finding it. "

Join the CSO newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags securityfbiphishing

More about FacebookFBIFederal Bureau of InvestigationMicrosoftYahoo

Show Comments

Featured Whitepapers

Editor's Recommendations

Solution Centres

Stories by Robert McMillan

Latest Videos

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Will your data protection strategy be enough when disaster strikes?

    Speakers: - Paul O’Connor, Engagement leader - Performance Audit Group, Victorian Auditor-General’s Office (VAGO) - Nigel Phair, Managing Director, Centre for Internet Safety - Joshua Stenhouse, Technical Evangelist, Zerto - Anthony Caruana, CSO MC & Moderator

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: The Human Factor - Your people are your biggest security weakness

    ​Speakers: David Lacey, Researcher and former CISO Royal Mail David Turner - Global Risk Management Expert Mark Guntrip - Group Manager, Email Protection, Proofpoint

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Current ransomware defences are failing – but machine learning can drive a more proactive solution

    Speakers • Ty Miller, Director, Threat Intelligence • Mark Gregory, Leader, Network Engineering Research Group, RMIT • Jeff Lanza, Retired FBI Agent (USA) • Andy Solterbeck, VP Asia Pacific, Cylance • David Braue, CSO MC/Moderator What to expect: ​Hear from industry experts on the local and global ransomware threat landscape. Explore a new approach to dealing with ransomware using machine-learning techniques and by thinking about the problem in a fundamentally different way. Apply techniques for gathering insight into ransomware behaviour and find out what elements must go into a truly effective ransomware defence. Get a first-hand look at how ransomware actually works in practice, and how machine-learning techniques can pick up on its activities long before your employees do.

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Get real about metadata to avoid a false sense of security

    Speakers: • Anthony Caruana – CSO MC and moderator • Ian Farquhar, Worldwide Virtual Security Team Lead, Gigamon • John Lindsay, Former CTO, iiNet • Skeeve Stevens, Futurist, Future Sumo • David Vaile - Vice chair of APF, Co-Convenor of the Cyberspace Law And Policy Community, UNSW Law Faculty This webinar covers: - A 101 on metadata - what it is and how to use it - Insight into a typical attack, what happens and what we would find when looking into the metadata - How to collect metadata, use this to detect attacks and get greater insight into how you can use this to protect your organisation - Learn how much raw data and metadata to retain and how long for - Get a reality check on how you're using your metadata and if this is enough to secure your organisation

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them Featuring: • John Baird, Director of Global Technology Production, Deutsche Bank • Samantha Macleod, GM Cyber Security, ME Bank • Sherrod DeGrippo, Director of Emerging Threats, Proofpoint (USA)

    Play Video

More videos

Blog Posts

Market Place