In what could be one of the largest bank heists in history, more than 100 banks and ATMs have been rigged so that thieves could steal up to $1 billion in cash.
Hackers from Russia, Ukraine, China and Europe were involved in the organized crime ring that was just recently exposed. According to a report by Internet security firm Kaspersky Lab, hackers installed spying software on bank computers, studied bank employee workflows so they could learn how to mimic their actions and used their knowledge to transfer money into bank accounts set up in other countries.
While the report did not name specific bank institutions, it stated that financial institutions in at least 30 countries were affected. The majority of targets were in Russia, while many institutions in Japan, the United States and Europe were also impacted.
Officials at the White House and the F.B.I. were briefed on the report's findings and plan to assess losses.
The report estimated that "total financial losses could be as high as $1 billion, making this by far the most successful criminal cyber campaign we have ever seen." Report estimates indicate that hackers stole between $2.5 million and $10 million from each bank.
Hackers apparently lurked for two to four months before engaging in such actions like changing an account balance and transferring excess funds into their own accounts. The hackers also found a way to make ATMs dispense cash at random times of the day, with individuals waiting on the sidelines to gather the cash.
The report warned that "attacks remain active" and outlined technical instructions for bank officials to determine if their computers are vulnerable. This includes tips such as searching for specific .bin files in a designated folder on a computer. For more specific details, read the full report here.