Hackers siphon Rs 94 crore from Pune’s Cosmos Cooperative Bank via ATMs in 28 countries

Recently hackers have stolen (illegally withdrawn) Rs .94 crore from Pune’s Cosmos Cooperative Bank via ATMs in 28 countries. It is possibly first of its kind coordinated digital attack on Indian bank. In this cyber heist considered to be originated in Canada, Rs. 78 crore were illegally withdrawn in more than 12,000 ATM transactions in 28 countries. Rs 2.5 crore were made in different places within India with another 2,800 transactions. Moreover, Rs 13.5 crore was transferred to Hong Kong-based entity using the Society for Worldwide Interbank Telecommunications (SWIFT) facility.

Modus Operandi of Hackers

The illegal withdrawals were enabled by malware attack which authenticated debit card transactions bypassing the bank’s computerised core banking systecore banking system (CBS), which allows banks to settle cash dispensation requests raised at ATMs.

CBS of the bank houses all the data of its customers. Once request is raised by swiping of card at ATM, it is transferred to CBS of bank using switching system. After checking available credit in individual account, CBS either allows or turns down request, which is again transmitted to payment systems via switching system.

The malware had created proxy switching system, which had bypassed need for validation by CBS of bank. The operation of switching systems involves variety of agencies, including banks, which participate in complex yet lightning fast process of dispensing money from teller machine.
This might have been preceded by another cyber-attack, resulting in data theft of hundreds of bank’s debit cards. The information on these debit cards were then have been cloned on to fake cards used in physical withdrawal of cash from ATMs across the world. The illegally withdrawn money has gone out from bank’s corpus and not from individual accounts of the bank’s customers.

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