Bank’s Security Systems Still Vulnerable, SWIFT Says

The institution behind SWIFT, the messaging system that connects the banks all around the world, has said that banks are still vulnerable to computer hacks. 

Major financial institutions use the SWIFT network to relay messages between each other. Swift is a platform used by more than 11,000 financial institutions to exchange messages that contain money transference orders. In a given day, the Swift infrastructure handles more than 25 million messages, accounting for billions of dollars. Every bank has its own Swift code along with credentials –login information– for their workers.

Banks from all over the world have been suffering from complex computer attacks, in February, Bangladesh Central Bank lost $81 million to hackers, three months after the attack, authorities uncovered three more incidents that may be related. Banks from Bangladesh, Vietnam, the Philippines and Ecuador have been victims of computer hacks.

But how can a seemingly secure system be vulnerable to theft?

Swift insists that the hacks were not carried out thanks to vulnerabilities in their infrastructure but as a result of weaknesses in each bank’s internal network. Regarding Bangladesh’s hacks, the local police declared that “the bank lacked a firewall and used second-hand, $10 electronic switches”.

News agency Reuters managed to get their hands on a copy of private letter send to SWIFT clients, the document reveals that more attacks have been attempted by hackers:

Customers’ environments have been compromised, and subsequent attempts (were) made to send fraudulent payment instructions. The threat is persistent, adaptive and sophisticated – and it is here to stay.

The letter confirms that new, successful attacks have in fact taken place, however, the note doesn’t specify the nature nor the magnitude of the thefts.

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