In 2016 hackers were able to steal about $21 million from accounts held at Bank of Russia, and this year attacks on banks around the globe are likely to get worse now that hacker group Anonymous has joined the effort.
According to a report in Bloomberg, two people with direct knowledge of the group’s activities said Anonymous is targeting central banks at an increasing rate. The group is known for activism against large companies, security forces and government and is now expanding into targeting central banks. Bloomberg reported Anonymous has been recruiting new hackers to help in its efforts and in February restarted attacks against central banks.
In 2016 the group went after eight central banks, including the Dutch Central Bank, the Bank of Greece and the Bank of Mexico, the two people told Bloomberg, noting Anonymous is even mulling selling any confidential information it gets its hands on. Stefano Zanero, a professor of computer security at Italian university Politecnico di Milano, told Bloomberg the hacks of central banks “are a wake-up call that should alert us to the critical weaknesses of global financial systems.”
Last year hackers were able to steal $81 million from Bangladesh’s central bank in a high-profile example of a central bank hack.
“The Bangladeshi bank case last year really brought the focus on payments systems within central banks,” said Adrian Nish, head of threat intelligence at BAE Systems Plc, in the Bloomberg report. “The realization that central banks can be targeted this way for profit has become a greater concern since Bangladesh.”
Meanwhile, in January Poland’s financial regulator was a target of a hack with the bad guys using a so-called watering hole attack in which hackers target a website that is used a lot and infect malware to specific visitors to the site such as a financial institution. The watering hole attack started at the website of Polish Financial Supervision Authority, reported Bloomberg.