Investigators suspect unknown hackers installed malware in the Bangladesh central bank’s computer systems and watched, probably for weeks, for how to go about withdrawing money from its U.S. account, two bank officials briefed on the matter said on Friday.
More than a month after hackers breached Bangladesh Bank’s systems and attempted to steal nearly $1 billion from its account at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, cyber security experts are trying to find out how the hackers got in.
FireEye Inc’s Mandiant forensics division is helping investigate the cyber heist, which netted hackers more than $80 million before it was uncovered.
The hackers appeared to have stolen Bangladesh Bank’s credentials for the SWIFT messaging system, which banks around the world use for secure financial communication.
In a statement Friday, Belgium-based SWIFT said: “SWIFT and the Central Bank of Bangladesh are working together to resolve an internal operational issue at the central bank. SWIFT’s core messaging services were not impacted by the issue and continued to work as normal.”
Banks and other businesses are eager to learn more about how the central bank was compromised so they can review their own networks for signs that they are vulnerable to similar attacks or might already have been breached, security professionals and bank executives told Reuters.
The incident could prompt central banks worldwide to beef up security and regulate financial institutions more tightly to prevent similar attacks, said Aviv Raff, chief technology officer with the cyber security firm Seculert.
“If banks are not better regulated this will for sure happen again,” said Raff.