Tuesday 12 December 2017

'Swift' global bank payments system hit by cyber attacks

Billions of euro are transferred each day under Swift system
Billions of euro are transferred each day under Swift system

Jim Finkle

The global financial network that banks use to transfer billions of euro every day has warned its customers that its system has come under attack.

The Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (Swift) bank identifier code (BIC) is used by 11,000 financial institutions in 200 countries to move billions of euro between banks and across international borders.

Swift has told its wholesale customers that it was aware of "a number of recent cyber incidents" where attackers had sent fraudulent messages over the system.

The disclosure came as law enforcement authorities in Bangladesh and elsewhere investigated a massive cyber theft of $81m from Bangladesh's central bank account at the New York Federal Reserve Bank in February.

Swift has acknowledged that the incident involved altering its software on Bangladesh Bank's computers to hide evidence of fraudulent transfers.

Yesterday's statement from Swift marked the first acknowledgement that the Bangladesh Bank attack was not an isolated incident.

"Swift is aware of a number of recent cyber incidents in which malicious insiders or external attackers have managed to submit SWIFT messages from financial institutions' back-offices, PCs or workstations connected to their local interface to the Swift network," the group warned customers in a notice seen by Reuters.

The confidential alert sent over its network, did not name any victims or disclose the value of any losses from the previously undisclosed attacks. Swift is a cooperative owned by banks.

It has now released a security update to the software that banks use to access its network in an effort to thwart so called malware that security researchers with British defence contractor BAE Systems said was probably used by hackers in the Bangladesh Bank heist.

BAE has suggested hackers manipulated Swift's Alliance Access server software, which banks use to interface with Swift's messaging platform, to cover their tracks. Cyber security experts said more attacks could surface as banks assess if their Swift access has been compromised. (Reuters)

Irish Independent

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