Employee PC Wreaks Havoc
in JP Morgan Hack

Employee PC Wreaks Havoc in JP Morgan Hack


The Wall Street Journal reported last week that J.P. Morgan was hacked and suffered a cyberheist called “a significant breach of corporate computer security”. It was reported that the FBI, the US Secret Service, and even the NSA are investigating the incident that seems to have occurred in mid-August. Russian hackers breached the bank’s defenses and compromised gigabytes of data, but the exact nature of that data remains unknown. However, it was stated attackers “grabbed sensitive data from the files of bank employees, including executives.”


People familiar with the probe said the evidence at this moment points to malware that infected an employee’s personal computer and from there the hackers were able to move further into the bank’s network. “They then plowed through layers of elaborate security to steal the data, a feat security experts said appeared far beyond the capability of ordinary criminal hackers,” one source said.

According to KnowBe4 CEO Stu Sjouwerman, “The weak link in this case is an employee, as their personal computer got infected with malware, and we can guess how that happened. They clicked on a link or were social engineered to open up an attachment that carried a malicious payload. The human is the weak link in IT security, and this latest data breach again shows how true this is. The employee probably fell for a (spear) phishing attack and clicked on something they should not have.”

The J.P. Morgan employee’s PC that was infected used VPN software to work remotely and the WSJ said: “Such an attack would mark the latest instance in which a large corporate network was breached by a weak external link”.

The news of this data breach came just days after J.P. Morgan customers were targeted by a large wave of phishing emails trying to get their banking username and password. Proofpoint researchers, who discovered the campaign, said that victims were lead to a fake login portal, which delivered banking malware made to look like a Java update after their username and password are entered into the form.

When hackers broke into Target last year and stole 40 million card numbers, they originally infiltrated the retailer by stealing a ventilation contractor’s password, also using the same tactic.  J.P. Morgan reported in their annual report that they will spend more than $250 Million per year and have about 1,000 people focused on cybersecurity.

“All that time and money is wasted unless you also pay attention to the ‘human firewall’, something companies need to create first and foremost. That can be accomplished with effective security awareness training for all employees that have a PC and have access to the Internet,“ said Sjouwerman.