WASHINGTON D.C.: A sophisticated global cyberattack struck more than 100 banks in 30 countries stealing hundreds of millions of dollars, The New York Times reported on Saturday (Sunday in Manila).
Citing a soon to be released report from computer security company Kaspersky Lab, the newspaper said the attack involved malicious software that gave hackers long-term access to banking systems.
A group of Russians, Chinese and Europeans was able to siphon off around $300 million in one of the world’s largest bank robberies, the report said.
The money was transferred to bank accounts around the world in small-value amounts to avoid detection.
Hackers largely focused on banks in Russia, but millions of dollars were also taken from banks in Japan, the Netherlands, Switzerland and the United States as well, the Times said.
Hackers had such advanced access to the banks’ systems that they could force ATM machines to dispense cash at specific times and locations where hackers could pick it up.
The cyberattacks were revealed a day after US President Barack Obama called on Silicon Valley to put aside distrust of the government and become allies in defending cyberspace from terrorists, hackers and spies.
Obama’s call came at a California summit on Friday (Saturday in Manila), where he signed an executive order aimed at spurring better and faster sharing of cyber threats between the private sector and government.
“This has to be a shared mission,” Obama said at a White House summit on cybersecurity at Stanford University, considered the birthplace of Google, Yahoo, and other technology titans.
“So much of our computer networks and critical infrastructure are in the private sector, which means government cannot do this alone. But the fact is that the private sector can’t do it alone either, because it’s government that often has the latest information on new threats,” he added.
He likened the Internet to the “wild, wild West” and said that the government was expected to be the sheriff.
Apple chief executive Tim Cook endorsed the effort as he addressed the packed conference prior to Obama.
Improving cybersecurity “is an enormous task, and no single company can accomplish it on its own,” Cook said, while pressing the case for improved privacy protection as well.
“We believe we can bring about a future that fully embraces both privacy and security; we must get this right,” Cook said.
The summit comes amid increased concerns over cybersecurity following a major intrusion last year into the network of Sony Pictures blamed on North Korea, and data breaches exposing the personal data of tens of millions of Americans.
Part of the reason the White House held the summit in Silicon Valley is to close a rift opened when a massive US online surveillance program was exposed by former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden.
Many tech firms and civil liberties activists have said they would back a cybersecurity plan only if accompanied by reforms of NSA surveillance.