Bank Loses $40 Million to Cyber Thievesin One Go

The Bank of Muscat of Oman recently fell victim to one of the biggest ever bank heists. Executed in just over 10 hours by a global cyber crime ring, $40 Million dollars was taken from ATMs in 24 different countries.8 individuals formed the New York based cell of the ring responsible.

By hacking the bank networks, the ring members gained access to stored credit card information. They manipulated balance and withdrawal limits, and armed with fake credit cards, fanned out collect their booty through 36,000 transactions.In earlier cyber-heist of the National Bank of Ras Al Khaimah PSC (RAKBANK) of the United Arab Emirates in December, $5 Million was taken in much the same fashion.

Cybercrime is nothing new. Yet its persistence is evidence that cybercrime is advancing at a faster pace than the security measures designed to prevent it. The speed and ease with which this heist was pulled off is staggering. When investigated, it was found that the bank hit was surprisingly easy to hack. It simply did not have the level of security needed to protect against the Internet threats of today.Moreover, Middle Eastern banks are prime targets because they allow much greater amounts on cards and do not monitor balances as closely as banks in other regions.

Without active defenses set up against the latest techniques of cybercrime, banks in the Middle East are vulnerable to attacks. As Virginia Commonwealth UniversityIT professor Mr. GurpreetDhillon put it, “…enforcement of regulatory controls…are broken and sketchy in the Middle East…” The banks were ripe for the picking, and without improvements, it is predicted that the number of cybercrimes in that region will remain comparatively high.

The ring is an example of the high level of organization and speed that cyber criminals are capable of. This serves to highlight the need to keep abreast of the latest methods and to update security to match.Mark Rasch, a former federal cyber crimes prosecutor, hit the nail on the head when he commented, “Hackers only need to find one vulnerability to cause millions of dollars of damage.”

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