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Huge Cyber Heist: Hacking Ring Steals 1 Billion From Banks Around The World

A hacking ring has stolen up to $1 billion from banks around the world in what would be one of the biggest banking breaches known, a cybersecurity firm says in a report scheduled to be delivered Monday.

The hackers have been active since at least the end of 2013 and infiltrated more than 100 banks in 30 countries, according to Russian security company Kaspersky Lab.

After gaining access to banks' computers through phishing schemes and other methods, they lurk for months to learn the banks' systems, taking screen shots and even video of employees using their computers, the company says.

Once the hackers become familiar with the banks' operations, they use that knowledge to steal money without raising suspicions, programming ATMs to dispense money at specific times or setting up fake accounts and transferring money into them, according to Kaspersky. The report is set to be presented Monday at a security conference in Cancun, Mexico. It was first reported by The New York Times.

The hackers seem to limit their theft to about $10 million before moving on to another bank, part of the reason why the fraud was not detected earlier, Kaspersky principal security researcher Vicente Diaz said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press.

The attacks are unusual because they target the banks themselves rather than customers and their account information, Diaz said.

The goal seems to be financial gain rather than espionage, he said.

"In this case they are not interested in information. They're only interested in the money," he said. "They're flexible and quite aggressive and use any tool they find useful for doing whatever they want to do."

Most of the targets have been in Russia, the U.S., Germany, China and Ukraine, although the attackers may be expanding throughout Asia, the Middle East, Africa and Europe, Kaspersky says. In one case, a bank lost $7.3 million through ATM fraud. In another case, a financial institution lost $10 million by the attackers exploiting its online banking platform.

Kaspersky did not identify the banks and is still working with law-enforcement agencies to investigate the attacks, which the company says are ongoing.

The Financial Services Information Sharing and Analysis Center, a nonprofit that alerts banks about hacking activity, said in a statement that its members received a briefing about the report in January.

"We cannot comment on individual actions our members have taken, but on balance we believe our members are taking appropriate actions to prevent and detect these kinds of attacks and minimize any effects on their customers," the organization said in a statement. "The report that Russian banks were the primary victims of these attacks may be a significant change in targeting strategy by Russian-speaking cybercriminals."

The White House is putting an increasing focus on cybersecurity in the wake of numerous data breaches of companies ranging from mass retailers like Target and Home Depot to Sony Pictures Entertainment and health insurer Anthem.

The administration wants Congress to replace the existing patchwork of state laws with a national standard giving companies 30 days to notify consumers if their personal information has been compromised.

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Comment by Pearl Green on February 20, 2015 at 9:50pm

The didn't rob anything, really.   The power that be don't use paper money it's all a matter of a push of a button.  There isn't an amount of physical money equivalent to the actual amount of money owned by people.   In the real world it's just a number on a computer.   So you don't have to steal anything just program a number into an account that's it.     All you need is access to their system and know how the bank confirm transactions. You will then need to know how to send a false wired transaction, of course easier said then done.  NO MONEY NEED BE STOLEN!...

Comment by GospelPan on February 17, 2015 at 1:45pm

It's truly amazing what these guys were able to do...I suspect at least of them has knowledge of how these banks work and knowledge of the types of software they use....

Comment by GUNMAN ah Come on February 17, 2015 at 8:41am
Cyber GUNMAN ting!!!! Awoah! They'll just pass their losses unto us. Another fee. Standing in line, fee, rolling up on the ATM from the right, fee. We gettin robbed on line, fee.....
Comment by eldin on February 16, 2015 at 10:07pm

YES! About freaking time! Those punk ass banks deserve to get robbed!

Comment by Loftus on February 16, 2015 at 2:27pm

Roots aka TJ What, good point. Do they expect empathy or sympathy form the common people? They both are criminals in the robbery, exploitation and extortion business. I do not care

Comment by Roots aka TJ What De Ras on February 16, 2015 at 2:16pm
What else is new. It's ok for the banks to rob from us but not ok to rob them.

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