'US tapped into money transfer system'


Clare Baldwin

Exploits are small programmes for taking advantage of security flaws. Hackers use them to insert back doors for continued access, eavesdropping or to insert other tools. File photo: Depositphotos
Exploits are small programmes for taking advantage of security flaws. Hackers use them to insert back doors for continued access, eavesdropping or to insert other tools. File photo: Depositphotos

Documents and computer files released by hackers provide a blueprint for how the US National Security Agency likely used weaknesses in commercially available software to gain access to the global system for transferring money between banks, a review of the data showed.

On Friday, a group calling itself the Shadow Brokers released documents and files indicating the NSA had accessed the globally used SWIFT money-transfer system through service providers in the Middle East and Latin America. That release was the latest in a series of disclosures by the group in recent months.

Matt Suiche, founder of cybersecurity firm Comae Technologies, wrote in a blog post that screen shots indicated some SWIFT affiliates were using Windows servers that were vulnerable at the time, in 2013, to the Microsoft exploits published by the Shadow Brokers.

He concluded the NSA had got in that way.

"As soon as they bypass the firewalls, they target the machines using Microsoft exploits," Mr Suiche told Reuters. Exploits are small programmes for taking advantage of security flaws. Hackers use them to insert back doors for continued access, eavesdropping or to insert other tools.

"We now have all of the tools the NSA used to compromise SWIFT (via) Cisco firewalls, Windows," Mr Suiche said.

Cisco and the NSA did not reply to requests for comment. (Reuters)