Hackers steal over 2 bn roubles from Russian central bank

Hackers stole over 2 billion rubles ($31 million) from correspondent accounts at the Russian central bank, the bank said yesterday, the latest instance in the escalation of cyber attacks on financial institutions around the globe.

The losses were discussed by central bank official Artyom Sychyov, at a briefing, saying that the hackers had attempted to steal about 5 billion rubles.

The comments came on a central bank report released earlier in the day, about hackers breaking into accounts by faking a client's credentials. The bank provided few details in its lengthy report. Banks around the world had been recently urged by financial regulators to beef up cyber security following a string of high-profile heists on banks around the world.

Fears of attacks on banks had increased since February when unknown cyber criminals stole $101 million in funds that Bangladesh's central bank had on deposit at the New York Fed (See: Hackers steal $101 mn of Bangla money from US Fed ).

Law enforcement agencies around the globe were hunting for the criminals who stole the money using fraudulent wire-transfer requests sent over the SWIFT bank messaging network.

Meanwhile, Russia said yesterday that it had uncovered a plot by foreign spy agencies to sow chaos in the country's banking system via a coordinated wave of cyber attacks and fake social media reports about banks going bust.

The central bank did not say when the heist occurred or how hackers moved the funds, but, according to commentators, the attack so far bore some similarity to a recent string of heists that had targeted the worldwide financial system. 

In January 2015, hackers got access to an Ecuadorian bank's codes for using SWIFT, the worldwide interbank communication network that settled transactions. The criminals used Banco del Austro's credentials to steal money the bank kept at Wells Fargo.