The Cosmos Bank Cyber Heist resulted in a $13 Million Loss. The attack has many security analysts pondering the potential involvement of notorious cyber criminals.
An elite team of cyber criminals carried out a malicious and elaborate cyber attack which targeted a renowned, urban co-operative bank. The fact they were able to siphon millions of dollars—upward of $13 million, to be exact—in fraudulent transactions across the globe, qualifies it as a cyber heist by any expert’s standards.
According to reports, hackers targeted the servers of Cosmos Bank, a centuries old financial institution situated in the Republic of India. The bank just so happens to be the country’s oldest, (at the time of this writing) about 112 years old. The masterminds behind the Cosmos Bank cyber heist succeeded in gaining access to it’s e-system, enabling them to lift the identities of users from the bank’s databases. As a result, they were able to transfer money to various accounts, only to later withdraw it from across more than 28 countries around the world.
According to a statement released by the bank, the hackers, who remain unidentified, did, in fact, manage to gain access to its computer systems. Advanced malware programs enabled them to bypass the security protocols set in place, ultimately thwarting any measure to safeguard and protect the data of its customers. Hackers not only made off with customer information from the bank’s Automated Teller Machines (ATMs); the data collected was used to withdraw huge sums of money wherever applicable.
In total, an estimated 14,849 transactions were logged, and hackers were able to steal about $13.5 million dollars from ATM servers. The money was physically dispersed from numerous countries, including the United States (US), United Kingdom (UK), and United Arab Emirates (UAE). This alone qualifies the Cosmos Bank Cyber Heist to be a chapter of its own in the history of cyber warfare.
A complaint was lodged by senior bank official Suhas Gokhale at a local police station. Among the aforementioned details, it also specified a direct attack against Cosmos Bank’s VISA debit card customers which led to the loss of about Rs 80 crore, or 13.5 million dollars.
The same local police station began investigating the attack immediately, with a police officer, who under the condition of anonymity, stating that in all, about Rs 13.94 crore was transferred to the city of Hong Kong. This was accomplished using a system known as SWIFT, or, the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications.
The police officer further added that Cosmos Bank lost Rs 94 crore in a span of two days. Emphasizing law enforcement’s role in the matter, he concluded that the offense has been registered under India’s Information Technology Act 2000 and that investigations are underway.
The level of sophistication of the Cosmos Bank cyber heist has many security analysts questioning the possible involvement of international cyber crime groups. Experts believe that the infamous North Korean hacker group Lazarus, whom previously carried out similar attacks on banks in Bangladesh and Poland, may very well be the perpetrator.
Patrons of Cosmos Bank were assured that their money was safe, and that access to their accounts would be reinstated following the restoration of the bank’s standard services and operating procedures. Still, financial experts have expressed grave concerns over the seemingly rising cyber attacks against banks across the world. “This has never been witnessed before,” claimed banking expert Vishwas Utagi. “(The Cosmos Bank cyber heist) is an attack on national security and all concerned authorities should take serious note of future risks.”