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Third bank targeted by cyber criminals in hack

The Bangladesh Central Bank heist was not the first bank targeted in a recent spree of attacks, according to a report by the Wall Street Journal.

The report by the American newspaper stated that Ecuadorian bank Banco Del Austro was targeted in January 2015, and cybercriminals stole around $9 million.

According to the newspaper article, the discovery was made from a lawsuit raised by the bank against Wells Fargo & Co in New York's federal court for failing to identify sufficiently “red flags” in transactions made in January 2015 and for failing to stop cybercriminals transferring $12 million to banks worldwide. Of the amount that was stolen, Banco Del Austro estimates that it was able to recover just $2.8 million.

The hackers were able to gain access to the Ecuadorian bank's Swift codes, the global bank messaging service, which were then used to transfer funds to different banks in another location. A similar attack was stopped by a bank in Vietnam after they identified the transfer requests as fraudulent. Around $1.5 million of the money stolen was transferred to a bank in Los Angeles, while a bank in Dubai was sent $1 million.

The article in the Wall Street Journal points out that, while there are definite similarities in the methods used in the Ecuadorean, the Bangladesh and the Vietnam bank hacks, it is unclear if a connection can truly be made to link all three attacks together. However, Swift has asked banks to be more vigilant in the battle against cybercriminals.

Natasha de Teran, a spokeswoman for Swift, said the firm had not been made aware of the earlier hack and theft: "We need to be informed by customers of such frauds if they relate to our products and services, so that we can inform and support the wider community. We have been in touch with the bank concerned to get more information and are reminding customers of their obligations to share such information with us."

Filed in: News

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