$1 Billion International Bank Heist

February 23, 2015

By: Kelly Diamond, Publisher

international bank heistI found it a little hard to believe when I first heard of it, but indeed there was a global bank heist of approximately $1 BILLION that was recently uncovered. By “global” we’re talking 30 countries and about 100 banks.  And yes, it was “uncovered” because unlike regular hold-ups and robberies, this was happening covertly through malware.

This was discovered when Kaspersky Labs was hired on to investigate a malfunction with an ATM at a Ukraine bank. What they concluded was that there was a network of individuals who hacked into these bank systems and stole the money right out from under them using the bank’s very own protocols. According to Kaspersky’s report, they gave the name “Carbanak” to the specific malware used by this ring of thieves. What makes it unique is that it wasn’t designed to target data as much as it targets money.

Our investigation began in Ukraine and then moved to Moscow, with most of the victims located in Eastern Europe. However thanks to KSN data and data obtained from the Command and Control servers, we know that Carbanak also targets entities in the USA, Germany and China. Now the group is expanding its operations to new areas. These include Malaysia, Nepal, Kuwait and several regions in Africa, among others.”

Depositing, withdrawing, and transferring funds are some of the primary functions of a bank. Each bank has a way in which they do this, and a software system they use to facilitate it. What this group did was send in a seemingly benign bit of malware into these banking institutions. Because nothing actually happened TO the computers or their systems, it was hard to know to look for something!

What actually happened is this bit of malware infiltrated their systems and allowed the hackers to watch step by step how the employees went about performing the day-to-day functions of the bank. Once they learned how to withdraw, transfer, and deposit funds using the bank’s protocols, they did just that! They didn’t even need to have a copy or version of the software the bank was using; they just hacked into the system and started moving the money around.

No one noticed while nearly a billion dollars across several banks was being siphoned off, due primarily to the fact that it was done through everyday transactions exactly as the respective banks would do. So far, it would seem that their motive wasn’t to steal from specific account holders or to take down any other aspect of the financial system. They targeted the banks’ money, transferred an inconspicuous amount into a private account then transferred it out into their own account.

According to USA Today:

“Losses per bank ranged from $2.5 million to as much as $10 million, the report said, adding that one institution lost a whopping $7.3 million due to ATM fraud alone.

“The hackers seemed to deliberately limited their theft to about $10 million per bank before moving on to their next target, which may explain why the fraud went undetected so long.”

They even found a way to get the ATMs to issue cash in certain amounts at certain times. An accomplice would be there to collect the withdrawal.

The banks who were targeted have not come forward to make an official statement or even inform their account holders that they were hacked and robbed!

Legislators are scrambling around trying to scribble and enact more magical words on paper to look like they are addressing the issue of cyberattacks on the financial sector. Of course, this is the same entity that hacks into our personal devices to track metadata about us. If they really wanted to protect people’s money, then they would give up their intrusive activities and encrypt it. Make all money a form of crypto currency.

Of course, that means they can’t regulate it at all. And given the choice between regulating your wealth and protecting it, they will choose the former every time. So don’t hold your breath for any REAL solutions to this. If the SEC isn’t too busy jacking off to porn while our financial sector is in virtual freefall, I’m sure someone will find time to emerge from their defiled revolving door to protect us all (*sarcasm*).

The reality is, Kaspersky Labs themselves, while possessing the most thorough understanding of what is happening, can’t do a damn thing to stop it or prevent it. If there is no logistical solution to the problem, there most certainly cannot be a legislative one.

Banks certainly don’t want to lose their own money. So to say that banks aren’t doing what they can to prevent it is rather a silly notion.

Another harsh reality to face is that the technical infrastructure of the financial industry globally is integrated and inextricably connected. That means a lot of eggs are sitting in a singular basket… seemingly on the doorstep of the chicken coup… sprayed with bacon grease with a note reading: “Dear Wolves, Help yourselves!”

What to do?!

Well, first things first, we strike the word “panic” from the list of potential solutions.

This isn’t meant to incite a run on the banks. This is meant for the critical thinker who has cultivated their ability to reason and think things through.

Diversify your holdings:

  1. Diversify the location. Think outside the higher profile – and subsequently highly targeted – countries like the US and Russia. Think smaller, like Anguilla and the Cook Islands.
  2. Diversify your assets. It would be unwise to keep all your holdings in the form of 1’s and 0’s or fiat currencies. Consider hard assets like metals or real estate.
  3. Diversify your investments. Research options trading and micro-lending.

GWPInsiders offers a considerable amount of actionable information on how rare opportunities to help you not only grow your wealth, but protect it.

Nothing is a 100% safe, 100% of the time from now until forever. That’s just a pipedream. But there are absolutely safer options out there. We have watched the Cypriot people “play it safe” and lose their entire retirement savings and pensions to “bail ins”.

If you are interested in learning more, click here and schedule a consultation today!

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