Computer security firm Kaspersky Lab has uncovered a sophisticated bank heist that has been ongoing for nearly 3 years.
It has been called one of the largest thefts ever. Viruses and malware were used to infect banking computers that allowed hackers to log keystrokes, steal passwords, and capture screenshots of banking employees. Through this they were able to gain access and information that enabled them to make off with more than $300 million dollars.
Over 100 banks in 30 countries were affected. The names of the banks have not been released for security reasons.
The hacks were conducted through malicious emails where readers were instructed to click a link that downloaded the code. Once the code was installed, hackers were able to monitor all of the activity on the infected machine. This allowed the perpetrators to learn and mimic the procedures of the bank employees.
The hackers then instructed ATMs to dispense cash at certain times a day and transferred millions via SWIFT into dummy accounts in foreign countries. The full extent of the damage is still being assessed by bank officials.
The attack was uncovered because one bank noticed that one of their ATMs was acting unusual and dispensing thousands of dollars at what appeared to be random times of day. One bank reportedly lost over $7 million just from ATM withdrawals alone.
Last year, more than 14 major U.S. banks were hacked including J.P. Morgan Chase and Bank of America. This latest attack has been much grander in scale and reportedly affected more than 100 different banks.
No one has been apprehended.
After the recent Sony hacks, the risk that our personal information and our finances face in the digital age has been a hot topic of discussion. After this latest heist, the conversation is shifting to a call for action.
President Obama spoke at a Cybersecurity Summit at Stanford University last week and signed an order to increase cooperation between corporations and government agencies to help aid the fight against cyber attacks. “The private sector can’t do it alone, because it is government that often has the latest information on new threats. There is only one way to defend Americans from these cyberattacks — that is through government and industry working together, sharing appropriate information as true partners,” Obama said.
With our increasing reliance on digital money, the more at risk our savings becomes to these types of threats. It may be that the only way to truly know your money is safe is to hold it in your own hands.