Second group of hackers found also targeting SWIFT users

Symantec guesses that hackers have hit about 100 organizations

A second hacking group is also trying to rob banks by exploiting the SWIFT money transfer system, following a US$81 million heist in February that used a similar approach.

The cyberattacks have been going on since January and have been targeting companies in the U.S., Hong Kong, Australia, and other countries, according to a Tuesday report from security firm Symantec.

A "rough guess" is that about 100 organizations have been hit so far, based on the 74 individual computer infections detected, the security firm added.

As part of their attacks, the hackers used malware to cover up records of fraudulent transactions made over SWIFT, preventing their victims from learning about the money theft.

Symantec said this approach bears a resemblance to the February heist at a Bangladesh bank that also involved hackers hiding evidence of their attack by tampering with the SWIFT system.

Some security experts have blamed the Bangladesh heist on the Lazarus Group, which has been linked to the North Korean government and the infamous 2014 hack of Sony pictures. However, Symantec said the malware used in these newly uncovered attacks probably belong to a separate cybercriminal gang known as Carbanak, which is believed to have stolen over $1 billion from dozens of countries by facilitating large wire transfers.  

"This new wave of attacks has also used some infrastructure that has previously been used in Carbanak campaigns," Symantec said. This includes the use of IP addresses found in previous Carbanak-related attacks.

To target their victims, the hackers distributed Microsoft Word documents and RAR archives -- likely through email phishing -- that can secretly install a Trojan onto a target computer. That Trojan can then load other hacking tools built to recover passwords and execute programs.

The hackers were targeting financial organizations in the banking, securities, trading, and payroll sectors, but they also attacked a small number groups related to the government, healthcare, and legal industries. 

"Although difficult to perform, these kinds of attacks on banks can be highly lucrative," Symantec said. "Estimates of total losses to Carbanak-linked attacks range from tens of millions to hundreds of millions of dollars."

On Tuesday, SWIFT, or the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, said it's aware of the details in Symantec's report. In August, it warned customers about ongoing attacks and has been publishing details on how to prevent them.  

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Michael Kan

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Essentials

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?