Billion dollar hacking ring targets 100 banks

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International security services are investigating a highly sophisticated cyber attack which is believed to have targeted more than 100 banks and financial institutions around the world.

A report from Russian security company Kaspersky, due to be released on Monday, says that banks may have lost up to $1billion. In a statement made on Sunday with the backing of Interpol, Europol and agencies in a number of countries investigating the attacks, Kapersky said that the losses came from multiple attacks over the past two years.

The attacks are thought to have come from an international criminal gang referred to as Carbanak by the investigators, which has representatives in Russia, Ukraine and other parts of Europe, the FT reported, as well as China.

The hackers used a technique called spear phishing which targets individual employees with emails that released malware into the company’s system once opened. The code then used knowledge gleaned from studying activities of officials with the authority to transfer large amounts of cash to shift up to $10 million at a time to accounts in Chinese and US banks.

The attackers concentrated in stealing money, sometimes sending instructions to ATMs to start dispensing cash at specified times, rather than taking banking customer data.

While similar attacks have been reported by other security researchers in the past, the Carbanak group carried out a wide range of sophisticated attacks in 30 countries, including the US, China and Germany. The Financial Services and Information Sharing and Analysis Centre has issued a warning to other banks and some law enforcement organisations.

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