Security & Fraud

SWIFT Breach — And Now There Are 12

SWIFT Banks Face Cyberattacks

When it rains, it pours. At least, that’s what SWIFT may be feeling, given the news that investigators are looking into computer breaches that have impacted as many as 12 banks, all linked to the global payment network.

Unfortunately, for SWIFT, Bloomberg reported on Thursday (May 26), the same irregularities identified across those 12 impacted banks are similar to those that took place during the Bangladesh central bank heist earlier this year, where cybercriminals made off with $81 million.

A person familiar with the probe told Bloomberg that security firm FireEye, which is conducting the investigation into the massive bank heist on behalf of the Bangladesh bank, was contacted by the other banks after finding evidence hackers accessed their networks.

The majority of the banks are located in Southeast Asia but also reportedly include banks in the Philippines and New Zealand.

In a written statement, the Brussels-based interbank cooperative explained:

“The emergence of new possible instances of compromise is not entirely surprising given that banks should now be undertaking rigorous reviews of their environments. Many may turn out to be false positives and/or have nothing to do with SWIFT messages, but it is key that these reviews take place and banks’ environments are secured.”

In the wake of its banking customers’ increasing demands for greater protection, SWIFT announced earlier this week that it plans to launch a new security plan to help combat ongoing bank heists.

SWIFT CEO Gottfried Leibbrandt confirmed the global interbank messaging system will introduce a new five-point plan this week. During a financial services conference in Brussels, Leibbrandt also noted that the Bangladesh Bank heist was a “watershed event for the banking industry.”

“There will be a before and an after Bangladesh. The Bangladesh fraud is not an isolated incident … This is a big deal. And it gets to the heart of banking,” he continued.


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