Hackers hit U.S., Russian banks in ATM robbery scam: report

UNTV News   •   December 12, 2017   •   3665

FILE PHOTO: A magnifying glass is held in front of a computer screen in this picture illustration taken in Berlin May 21, 2013. CREDIT: REUTERS/PAWEL KOPCZYNSKI

FRANKFURT (Reuters) – A previously undetected group of Russian-language hackers silently stole nearly $10 million from at least 18 mostly U.S. and Russian banks in recent years by targeting interbank transfer systems, a Moscow-based security firm said on Monday.

Group-IB warned that the attacks, which began 18 months ago and allow money to be stolen from banks’ automated teller machines (ATMs), appear to be ongoing and that banks in Latin America could be targeted next.

The first attack occurred in the spring of 2016 against banks in First Data’s (FDC.N) “STAR” network, the largest U.S. bank messaging system connecting ATMs at more than 5,000 organizations, Group-IB researchers said in a 36-page report.

In a statement, First Data said that a number of small financial institutions operating on the STAR network had had their credentials breached for administering debit cards earlier in 2016, leading First Data to implement new mandatory security controls. It said the STAR network was never itself breached.

The firm said it was continuing to investigate a number of incidents where hackers studied how to make money transfers through the SWIFT banking system, while stopping short of saying whether any such attacks had been carried out successfully.

SWIFT said in October that hackers were still targeting its interbank messaging system, but security controls instituted after last year’s $81 million heist at Bangladesh’s central bank had thwarted many of those attempts. (reut.rs/2z1b7Bo)

Group-IB has dubbed the hacker group “MoneyTaker” after the name of software it used to hijack payment orders to then cash out funds through a network of low-level “money mules” who were hired to pick up money from automated teller machines.

The security researchers said they had identified 18 banks who were hit including 15 across 10 states in the United States, two in Russia and one in Britain. Beside banks, financial software firms and one law firm were targeted.

The average amount of money stolen in each of 14 U.S. ATM heists was $500,000 per incident. Losses in Russia averaged $1.2 million per incident, but one bank there managed to catch the attack and return some of the stolen funds, Group-IB said.

Hackers also stole documentation for OceanSystems’ Fed Link transfer system used by 200 banks in Latin America and the United States, it said. In addition, they successfully attacked the Russian interbank messaging system known as AW CRB.

Once hackers penetrated targeted banks and financial organizations, they stole internal bank documentation in order to mount future ATM attacks, Group-IB said. In Russia, the hackers continued to spy on bank networks after break-ins, while at least one U.S. bank had documents robbed twice, it said.

Group-IB said it had notified Interpol and Europol in order to assist in law enforcement investigations.

The unidentified hackers used a mix of constantly changing tools and tactics to bypass anti-virus and other traditional security software while being careful to eliminate traces of their operations, helping them to go largely unnoticed. To disguise their moves, hackers used security certificates from brands such as Bank of America, the Fed, Microsoft and Yahoo.

Reporting by Eric Auchard; editing by Mark Heinrich and Gareth Jones

House seeks inquiry on looming ATM fee hike

Robie de Guzman   •   August 13, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – The House of Representatives is set to conduct an inquiry into the looming increase in the fee for withdrawing cash from automated teller machines (ATM) following the lifting of the six-year moratorium imposed by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP).

The lifting of the freeze on ATM fee hike has raised concerns among lawmakers that banks would jack up charges by as much as 50 percent based on the rates they proposed before the moratorium was implemented in 2013.

“We are worried that the forthcoming increases in ATM charges might harm consumers – the nation’s more than 58 million ATM cardholders,” Makati City Rep. Luis Campos said in a statement.

“Even more vulnerable are our estimated 4.1 million minimum wage earners. Many of them receive and withdraw their salaries twice a month through their ATM cards at the machine nearest them,” he said.

Campos filed House Resolution No. 210, which seeks the House Committee on banks and financial intermediaries to probe on the looming ATM fee increase following the issuance of Memorandum No. M-2019-020 by the BSP this year.

A survey of ATM fees shows that banks currently charge between P10 to P15 per interbank withdrawal transaction, and P2 per interbank balance inquiry.

Campos said these charges could jump to as much as P15 to P30 per interbank withdrawal or possibly even higher, with the removal of the moratorium.

In his resolution, Campos pointed out there now exists “a virtual monopoly in the network that interconnects all of the country’s 21,682 ATMs.”

ExpressNet Inc. outsourced its ATM network to BancNet Inc. in 2008, and BancNet and MegaLink Inc. merged their ATM networks in 2015, with BancNet as the surviving entity, while MegaLink has since been repurposed, Campos said.

“In this case, we are clearly compelled under The Consumer Act, or Republic Act 7394, to conduct an inquiry so as to safeguard the rights of ATM users,” he added.

Indonesia nabs Russian trying to smuggle baby otters, scorpions

Robie de Guzman   •   May 24, 2019

Courtesy : Reuters

Indonesian authorities said on Friday (May 24) they have arrested a Russian on the holiday island of Bali after he was found trying to smuggle baby otters and scorpions out of the country.

The unidentified Russian was found carrying four critically endangered Eurasian otters and 10 scorpions in a box stocked with food and milk on Thursday, conservationists said.

“The security in Ngurah Rai International airport found living objects inside the trunk of a Russian passenger during the X-ray scan,” Bali’s Natural Resources Conservative Agency (BKSDA) chief Budhy Kurniwan told reporters.

If found guilty, the suspect could face up to five years in prison and a 100 million Indonesian rupiah ($7000) fine.

Populations of the Eurasian otter, a fish-eating mammal, are declining in Asia and it is a protected species in Indonesia. Illegal wildlife trade is rampant in Indonesia, despite efforts by authorities to crack down on smugglers.

In March, authorities arrested a Russian at the same airport with a drugged a baby orang-utan in his suitcase. He was attempting to smuggle it to Russia. (REUTERS)

NPC probes 7 hacked gov’t websites

Marje Pelayo   •   April 24, 2018

 

MANILA, Philippines — Seven government websites were hacked in the first week of April this year.

The agencies affected by the hacking activity were:

  1. Taguig City University
  2. Department of Education – Bacoor, Cavite
  3. Department of Education – Calamba, Laguna
  4. Bulacan Provincial Government
  5. Philippine Carabao Center
  6. Republic Center Colleges in Angeles City
  7. Laguna State Polytechnic University

Despite the incident, none of the agencies’ personal information controllers (PICs) reported the problem to the National Privacy Commission (NPC.) PICs are the persons in charge of government agency websites.

The incident prompted the NPC to look into the matter and find out why the PICs failed to immediately alert the commission.

According to NPC, the hackers were able to post on Facebook all pertinent information such as e-mail accounts, password, contact info and addresses of around 2,000 officials in the affected websites.

The agency expressed concern over the incident as such hacking of personal information is likely to result in identity fraud. — Mon Jocson | UNTV News & Rescue

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