Threat Management

Russia’s banks will be hacked today, apparently

Foreign powers will attempt to hack into Russia's central bank today according to Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB) who revealed the plot on Friday.

The attacked is purportedly scheduled for 5 December, with the intention of destabilising the the financial system of the world's 12th largest, according to the International Monetary Fund. The FSB added that the attacks would hit several dozen Russian cities.

Running alongside the cyber-attack is supposed to be a campaign of information warfare running across SMS, blogs and social media, intended to instill panic and SAP confidence in the Russian financial system. According to the FSB's statement that campaign, which is to include a massive salvo of spam sms messages will spread the falsehood that there is a crisis in the Russian financial system and that major federal and regional banks have gone bankrupt or had their licences revoked.

If this is legitimate, it represents an interesting new intervention in the tactics of cyber-attack. Emily Orton, director at Darktrace told, “What we are seeing now is a shift away from relatively straightforward data breaches, towards ‘trust attacks', like this suspected attack against the Russian banking system, which aim to erode public confidence.”

Attackers are now trying to hook not just the data, but people's minds, too: “So attackers are playing with perception now, as much as with data sets. They are sowing the seeds of confusion and distrust, and implications could be severe to banking systems, governments and industry at large.”

The FSB is apparently coordinating the defence against today's impending cyber assault and is coordinating with the Russian ministry of communications and the banks.

Russia Today, a Kremlin funded international news organisation and widely regarded as a state mouthpiece, has reported that the FSB has been instructing the banks in how to defend themselves against the impending assault.  

The servers are apparently located in the Netherlands, owned by a Ukrainian hosting company, BlazingFast.

The news accompanies another report from the Russian Central Bank, which says hackers stole US$31 million (£24 million) over this last year.  Artyom Sychyov, an official from the bank told press on Friday that hackers had tried to steal US$78 million (£61 million) but had only gotten away with the previous figure.  

Russian banks have been the targets of some of the major cyber-attacks and campaigns of recent memory. The Carbanak campaign, revealed last year, took dead aim at Russian financial institutions making off with, according to some report, US$1 billion (£786 million).  

Who these ‘foreign powers' taking aim at Russian finance are is not yet known. The United States have made various veiled threats against Russia. Joe Biden, the sitting vice president promised to ‘send a message' to Russia after a series of breaches during the US election, thought to be perpetrated by Russian state in order to swing the election in favour of current president-elect, Donald Trump.

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