The $13 million in a day cyber crime

Posted on: August 28, 2011

This article comes from MSNBC that reported a coordinated network pulled off one of the largest, most complex banking heists ever via cyber space. Back in March of this year, the crime gang withdrew $13 million in one day from ATMs in six countries.

Fidelity National Services Inc. (FIS) located in Jacksonville, Florida was the target of a massive breach. This firm processes prepaid debit cards. This is what happened. The attacker first broke into FIS’ network and gained unauthorized access to the company’s database that holds debit card customer’s balances. The prepaid debit cards do include a fraud protection policy that limits the amount cardholders can withdraw from an ATM with a 24-hour period. Also, once the balance on the cards is reached, the cards cannot be used until their owners put more money back onto the cards.

But these slick cyber criminals knew just what to do. They obtained 22 legitimate cards, eliminated each card’s withdrawal limit, and  cloned them, sending copies to conspirators in Greece, Russia, Spain, Sweden, Ukraine and the United Kingdom. When the prepaid limit on each card got too low, the hackers simply reloaded the fraudulent cards remotely.

At the close of the business day on Saturday, March 5, the criminals began taking out money from ATMs. By Sunday evening, the scam was over, and the attackers had stolen $13 million.

Unfortunately, it is not clear who is behind the attack on FIS, although the characteristics of the scheme put it in line with similar
crimes perpetrated by cyber criminals in Estonia and Russia.

Cyber crime is becoming a huge threat to every country’s economy. Too bad these criminals can’t use their imagination for doing good instead of doing bad.


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