The central bank of Russia became the latest victim of high-profile cyberattacks, as hackers stole 2 billion rubles ($31 million) from correspondent accounts. Artyom Sychyov, an official of the central bank said the hackers were attempting to steal 5 billion rubles ($78million). In his briefing, Sychyov revealed that the hackers gained access by using counterfeit credentials of a client. An official from the central bank’s press office, Ekaterina Glebova, told The Wall Street Journal “We can’t say exactly when, but we can say today (Friday) it was stolen.” The bank revealed very little about how the hackers gained access or how they were able to disrupt their plans. The Russian bank said they had been fortunate enough to recoup $26 million of the stolen money, as this was frozen in some other bank accounts being used to launder the money. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has been urging banks to ramp up security against cyber criminals, following high-level breaches of other major banks around the world recently.
The Russian government said it will upgrade its system and is telling other banks in the country to do the same. Over the past year, Ecuador, the Philippines, Vietnam and Bangladesh have had their own bouts with hackers. In January, an Ecuadorian bank’s codes were hacked via SWIFT, the interbank communication network. In February, $81 million were stolen from Bangladesh’s central bank, from funds which were being held at the New York Fed. The hit on Bangladesh was also done via communications on the SWIFT network. The IMF warned that emerging markets were more vulnerable to cyberattacks, as the correspondent banking relationships they have are still not fully developed. Tesco Bank in Britain is also a recent victim of hackers, with £2.5 million stolen from 20,000 accounts. Glebova said the bank is arranging meetings with lenders, ministers and other corporations to put measures in place to keep them safe.