Don't forget to log off! Gulf cyber criminals steal $45m in 10 hours

Published May 11th, 2013 - 10:28 GMT
Computer hacking, for illustrative purposes.
Computer hacking, for illustrative purposes.

Dubai Bank robberies in future might not happen in the traditional way. In fact it will be carried out through the information super-highway - by hacking - a process that has recently drained a number of banks $45 million (Dh165 million) in a matter of hours.

Two banks in the GCC — Rakbank in the UAE and the Bank of Muscat in Oman — were among those affected in the cyber heist which is being termed as the biggest ATM fraud case. Rakbank CEO Graham Honeybill said the incident relates back to December 2012 and involved the Bank’s service provider in India with a potential loss of Dh17.4 million. “The Bank can confirm that none of its customers suffered any financial loss as a result of this fraud,” he told Gulf News.

A gang of cybercriminals stole $45 million in a matter of hours by hacking their way into a database of prepaid debit cards - in two separate incidents in December 2012 and February this year - and then draining cash machines in 27 countries around the globe, US federal prosecutors said, blaming outmoded US card technology.

Seven people were arrested in the US in connection with the case, which prosecutors said involved thousands of thefts from ATMs using bogus magnetic swipe cards carrying information from Middle Eastern banks.

US Attorney Loretta Lynch called it “a massive 21st-century bank heist”. One of the suspects was caught on surveillance cameras, his backpack increasingly loaded down with cash, authorities said. Others took photos of themselves with giant wads of bills as they made their way up and down Manhattan. It appears no individuals lost money. The thieves plundered funds held by the banks that back up prepaid credit cards, not individual or business accounts, Lynch said.

There were two separate attacks, one in December that reaped $5 million worldwide and one in February that snared about $40 million in 10 hours with about 36,000 transactions.

What do you think of these recent online attacks? Should these banks spend more money on defence systems? Let us know!

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