The Russian Interior Ministry's department of cyber-crimes announced that it has uncovered a criminal group which had planned a series of massive cyber-attacks on the Russian banking system and international payment systems.
Alexei Moshkov, head of the department, told SCMagzineUK.com that the criminal group, which comprises more than 50 members, headed by a 30-year IT expert from Moscow, posed a threat to the security of the entire Russian banking system, and had plans to conduct cyber-attacks on various Russian and EU banks.
Moshkov said that members of the group planned cyber-attacks on the processing centres of Russian and foreign banks, as well as some world financial networks and systems, and in particular the SWIFT system. In the latter case, criminals were able to create the software that generated fake bills. A cyber-attack was also conducted on the processing center of VISA, however, as an official spokesman of VISA Russia told SC, experts at the company were able to prevent it.
Alexei Moshkov commented: "Using vulnerabilities in their protocols, they were able to infliltrate and undermine some major international payment systems. They have created and registered their own payment system to facilitate the withdrawal of funds, which took place in accordance with all international rules and standards."
According to the Russian Interior Ministry, the criminal group was highly capable and well-prepared and, in addition to direct hacking attacks, specialised in the production of skimming equipment for ATMs, the creation of systems for the control of banking terminals, and the design and spread of computer viruses.
Initially the group planned to steal up to RUB 1.5 billion (£13 million).
Prior to being detected, the hackers were able to hack various Russian banks, forcing the Russian Central Bank to disconnect the hacked banks from the main Russian electronic payments system.
This is the third criminal cyber-group detected in Russia over the last couple of months. Several days ago it was announced by Alexander Gostev and Vitaly Kamlyuk, senior researchers at Kaspersky Lab that two other groups had been detected.
As they told SC, both criminal groups used malware to withdraw cash from ATMs, infiltrating banking networks and undertaking illegal financial transactions. According to Kaspersky, the hackers planned to crack more than 30 Russian banks,using the Metel malware (also known as Corkow).