Threat Management, Threat Management

Russian bank licences revoked for using hackers to withdraw funds

The Russian Central Bank  suspects that certain national banks have been using hackers to withdraw funds from the accounts of their clients according to the results of a recent investigation conducted by experts at the Central Bank.

Georgy Luntovsky, first deputy chairman of the Central Bank, told through his representative that in recent months many Russian banks and financial institutions have begun using fake cyberattacks, which help them to cover up their previous crimes or violations, as well as to withdraw money from the accounts of their clients.

Luntovsky has also added that in the fourth quarter of 2015 the Central Bank had revoked the licences of three domestic banks that had previously been reportedly subject to cybe- attacks by hackers.

According to data from the Russian Central Bank, in Q4 2015 alone cyber-attacks resulted in the theft of more than 1.5 billion rubles (US$ 20 million) from the accounts of clients at some Russian banks and there is a strong suspicion that these attacks could have taken place with the knowledge of these banks and even with their direct participation.

Criminals were able to cash funds using real credit cards, making thousands of anonymous bank transfers and falsifying accounting details of the banks' counterparties.

At the same time, according to data provided by the Central Bank to SC, in addition to fake cyber-attacks on Russian banks, this year the number of cyber-attacks on non-credit financial institutions has also increased.

This is reflected in an increase in the number of cyber-attacks on stock exchanges, and in particular during stock trading, which usually takes place with the help of non-payment of trading tools, such as trading platforms and processing centres.

According to the latest report of the Russian Central Bank, currently the level of IT security at the majority of Russian banks remains weak, which is partly attributed to their desire to avoid the cost of introducing new IT security systems on their servers. In addition, due to massive cuts in the Russian banking industry over the past year, (caused by the ongoing financial crisis in the country), many former banking workers have started to collaborate with hackers, facilitating access to the computer systems of their former employers.

The situation is aggravated by the fact that many of the banks that became a subject of cyber-attacks prefer not to disclose information about crimes committed against them due to reputational risks.

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