Previously undetected group of Russian-language hackers silently stole nearly 10 million dollars from at least 18 mostly United States and Russian banks in recent years by targeting interbank transfer systems, a Moscow-based security firm said.
Group-IB warned that the attacks, which began 18 months ago and allowed money to be stolen from banks’ Automated Teller Machines (ATMs), appeared to be ongoing and that banks in Latin America could be targeted next.
The first attack occurred in the spring of 2016 against banks in First Data’s (FDC.N) “STAR” network, the largest U.S. bank messaging system connecting ATMs at more than 5,000 organisations, Group-IB researchers said in a 36-page report.
First Data said in a statement that a number of small financial institutions operating on STAR network had had their credentials breached for administering debit cards earlier in 2016, leading it to implement new mandatory security controls.
The firm said the STAR network was never itself breached.
It said it was investigating some incidents where hackers studied how to make money transfers through the SWIFT banking system, while stopping short of saying whether any such attacks had been carried out successfully.
SWIFT said in October that hackers were still targeting its interbank messaging system, but security controls instituted after last year’s 81 million dollars heist at Bangladesh’s Central Bank had thwarted many of those attempts.
Group-IB has dubbed the hacker group “MoneyTaker” after the name of the software it used to hijack payment orders to then cash out funds through a network of low-level “money mules.”
The Moscow-based security firm said the hacker group hired “money mules” to pick up money from automated teller machines.