Wednesday

18th Oct 2017

Cyber criminals steal millions from EU banks

  • Fraudsters initiated transfers totaling €35 million from 5,000 Dutch business accounts based in two banks in March. (Photo: UK Ministry of Defence)

Cyber attacks have siphoned off at least €60 million from personal and business accounts in 60 banks located in Europe, the United States, and Latin America.

Security firms Guardian Analytics and McAfee published the findings in a joint report called "Dissecting Operation High Roller" on Tuesday (26 June).

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

High-balance accounts in Italy, Germany and the Netherlands were the initial targets of the attacks before they spread out to the Americas.

The experts say at least €2 billion could have been stolen if the fraud campaign had demonstrated the same level of success against accounts based in The Netherlands.

In March alone, fraudsters initiated transfers totaling €35 million from 5,000 Dutch business accounts based in two banks.

The Guardian Analytics and McAfee study identified 60 servers processing thousands of attempted thefts that initially targeted consumers before moving onto businesses. Every class and size of financial institution was targeted.

In Italy, the accounts targeted held on average between €250,000 to €500,000. Hackers introduced a code in malware that transferred either a fixed percentage or a relatively small fixed amount onto a pre-paid debit card or bank account.

The system was able to bypass, in less than 60 seconds, physical authentication checks such as the smartcard reader common in Europe.

Account holders introduce or swipe their cards in the smartcard to generate security codes and pin numbers to access their accounts online.

"The defeat of two-factor authentication that uses physical devices is a significant breakthrough for the fraudsters. Financial institutions must take this innovation seriously, especially considering that the technique used can be expanded for other forms of physical security devices," say the researchers.

The same system of automated attacks in Italy then began to appear in Germany in January. Nearly €1 million was taken from a total of 176 accounts with average account balances nearing €50,000. The money was transferred to mule accounts in Portugal, Greece, and the United Kingdom.

In unrelated events also on Tuesday (26 June), a US sting operation arrested 24 people in the United States and abroad for buying and selling stolen credit card information.

The scam and thefts occurred in the United States, Canada and 11 European countries, reports the AFP.

Six people were arrested in the United Kingdom, two in Italy, and one each in Bulgaria, Germany and Norway.

The European Commission, for its part, says around one-third of EU citizens were banking online in 2010. The figure has most likely increased since.

It says that people's bank credentials are being sold traded by criminals in Europe for around €60 per account holder, and credit cards for as little as €1.

A European cyber crime centre should become operation in January 2013.

The centre, housed in the premises of Europol in The Hague, will be tasked to identify organised cyber-criminal networks and prominent offenders.

Hackers stole Van Rompuy's emails

Hackers last summer raided the emails of EU Council chief Herman Van Rompuy and 10 other senior EU officials.

Investigation

EU states copy Israel's 'predictive policing'

Israelis are using social profiling and predictive policing, also known as 'Facebook arrests', to crack down on suspects in Palestinian territories. National authorities in the EU, including the EU's police agency, Europol, are now applying the tactics closer to home.

News in Brief

  1. Catalonia will 'not back down'
  2. New toxic incident in EU building ahead of summit
  3. Murdered Malta journalist's family invited to Parliament
  4. EU food safety chief denies keeping studies 'secret'
  5. EU states pledge 24,000 resettlement places so far
  6. US ready for arms sale to update Greece's F-16 fleet
  7. Austria's Green leaders step down following election failure
  8. Icelandic journalists protest ban on reporting PM's finances

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EU2017EENorth Korea Leaves Europe No Choice, Says Estonian Foreign Minister Sven Mikser
  2. Mission of China to the EUZhang Ming Appointed New Ambassador of the Mission of China to the EU
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsEU Should Seek Concrete Commitments From Azerbaijan at Human Rights Dialogue
  4. European Jewish CongressEJC Calls for New Austrian Government to Exclude Extremist Freedom Party
  5. CES - Silicones EuropeIn Healthcare, Silicones Are the Frontrunner. And That's a Good Thing!
  6. EU2017EEEuropean Space Week 2017 in Tallinn from November 3-9. Register Now!
  7. European Entrepreneurs CEA-PMEMobiliseSME Exchange Programme Open Doors for 400 Companies Across Europe
  8. CECEE-Privacy Regulation – Hands off M2M Communication!
  9. ILGA-EuropeHealth4LGBTI: Reducing Health Inequalities Experienced by LGBTI People
  10. EU2017EEEHealth: A Tool for More Equal Health
  11. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Tourism a Key Driver for Job Creation and Enhanced Competitiveness
  12. CECENon-Harmonised Homologation of Mobile Machinery Costs € 90 Million per Year