Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Report: Cyber Thieves Steal Nearly $1 Billion from Scores of Banks


CANCUN, Mexico – An unprecedented cyber robbery that targeted scores of banks and used highly advanced hacking techniques resulted in the theft of nearly $1 billion, a newly released report says.

The case is probably the most sophisticated campaign of cyberattacks against banks to date, Moscow-based computer security firm Kaspersky Lab, which is investigating the thefts in close collaboration with Europol and Interpol, said at its Feb. 16-17 Security Analyst Summit in this southeastern Mexican resort city.

The gang of cyber thieves, which Kaspersky refers to as Carbanak, may have stolen around 800 million euros ($905 million) from more than 100 financial institutions based in 30 countries.

Russia was the main target of the cyberattacks, although they also affected banks in other countries, including China, Nepal, Malaysia, Kuwait and several African nations.

No European or U.S. bank has thus far reported being infected by the gang’s malware but traces of activity have been detected, according to Kaspersky expert Vicente Diaz, who told Efe investigators suspect the gang “plans to continue expanding its horizons to reach more victims.”

The attacks have targeted the financial institutions themselves as opposed to their customers, with the banks in most cases unaware of the thefts until long after they occurred.

The sophisticated malware used by the criminals allowed them to see and record everything that happened on the screens of staff who operated their institution’s cash-transfer systems, the report said.

This enabled the criminals to become intimately acquainted with employees’ work and transfer cash out without the bank noticing any irregularities.

“The malicious code used had never been seen before,” Diaz told Efe, adding that investigators presume the same group was behind each cyberattack because identical technological tools were employed in each case.

The investigation was launched in the spring of 2014, although the evidence gathered so far indicates the gang began operating the previous year.


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