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Monday, February 19, 2018

Hackers robbed 4.8 million euros


It is widely known that Russia is continuously accused of cyber attacking the most important powers in Europe, and of course, the United States. The country ruled by Donald Trump tries to prove Russian meddling in the USA elections, to say the least. The flip side of the coin shows Russia looking forward to combat cybercrime as their economy has suffered recent attacks, some, successful.

A report by the Central Bank of Russia (TsB), released on Friday, maintains that last year a Russian bank was subject to an attack by hackers, who stole the sum of 339.5 million rubles (4.8 million euros). According to the information, "it was the first successful attack against a Russian bank through SWIFT", the transfer system used by banks worldwide. It was known last December, but the TsB has not revealed which bank it is exactly.

SWIFT spokeswoman Natasha de Teran, for her part, has stated that the company does not comment on specific entities. The Russian economic newspaper Védomosti believes that it was Globex Bank that suffered the theft of funds, but its director, Valeri Ovsiánnikov, told RIA-Novosti agency today that "we were the target of an attack attempt, but the deposits of our clients were not affected”. According to Ovsiánnikov, the hackers managed to seize 56.5 million rubles (807,000 euros) "but we managed to block most of that sum and it could have been returned". SWIFT warned last year that digital thefts are increasing due to the sophisticated techniques and tools used by hackers. These attacks have already penetrated through SWIFT in the US Federal Reserve and in the Central Bank of Bangladesh, where they seized 81 million dollars.

The Group-IB company, specializing in security against cybercrime, has declared that the group of hackers responsible for the attack is called Cobalt. The Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Russia, Dmitri Skóbelkin, says the group is responsible for 11 attacks throughout 2017 using the virus Cobalt Strike, although most of the attempts were blocked. It is known that Cobalt Strike is a security tool used to test the strength of an organization’s cyber defenses, but it has also been used by hackers to attack banks in Russia and Europe. Certainly not the first time something created for good backfires.

The band was recognized as Cobalt because of their use of the tool to attack cash machines in more than a dozen countries in 2016, using the malicious software to force the ATMs to deliver the cash. Western media coincide that the Russian government seem now eager to show that Russia is a frequent victim of cybercrime and that they are working hard to fight it. Skóbelkin had warned on Tuesday during the Ural Forum «Security in the financial sphere», that the group did manage to steal a billion rubles of private credit cards last year. No one escapes hackers. Russia found out the hard way.