15 May

45 Million Dollar Hack

45 Million Dollar Hack atm.jpgThe 45 Million Dollar Hack

Charges have just been put to the alleged perpetrators of the 45 million dollar hack that took the world by surprise this February.  The hackers netted 45 million dollars through a shockingly simple scheme that involved infiltrating computer systems that create debit cards and credit cards.   The systems were located in India and the United States.  The 25 year old mastermind did not get to enjoy the fruits of his labours as he was soon murdered.   Local media reported that the murder is related to a dispute between criminal groups over the distribution of 45 million dollars.

21st Century Bank Robbers

The global cyber-crime ring allegedly stole about 40 million dollars in less than 10 hours and their total haul is estimated to be about 45 million dollars.  Eight people were charged in New York on Thursday.  “The defendants and their co-conspirators participated in a massive 21st-century bank heist that reached across the Internet and stretched around the globe,” said Loretta Lynch, a US district attorney.  “In the place of guns and masks, this cybercrime organization used laptops and the Internet.”//DPA.  This is another example of crime coming to life in cyber space.

The scope and speed of the operation has taken experts and law enforcement by surprise.  The group hacked into prepaid bank accounts worldwide to eliminate the cash withdrawal limits on the debit card accounts and used ATMs in 24 countries to access the money.  The 45 million dollar hack has prompted Binary Limited to talk to our clients about their use of debit cards.  Debit cards are a relatively safe option for online purchases.  The security of the debit cards lies in their pre-paid nature which usually means that you can only access an amount equal to the amount you have loaded on the card.  This line of security was compromised when the transaction limit was removed by the hackers allowing them access to virtually limitless funds.

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Straight to the Source

In this case, there was nothing that the end user could do as the group hacked into the computer systems that create the debit and credit cards themselves – they went directly to the source.  The real question still remains – how did the hackers get in?  You would think that institutions who have a vested interest in protecting their data would have stronger defenses.  Reports indicate that it took less than 2 hours for the group to take 2.8 million dollars.  Whether this was a case of a blind spot being exploited or the front door being left wide open has yet to be revealed (and we may never be told the truth) however, this is a timely reminder for all of us to review the security of our systems and to have them stress tested so we know what the risks are and prevent being blindsided by a similar attack.

In case you were wondering what the criminal masterminds looked like, the picture on the left shows 2 of the group – in the faceless world of cyber crime it is difficult to imagine the faces of those you are up against.  These are the people Binary Limited are helping to protect you from.

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