Russian Banks Lose $31 Million in Cyber Attacks

By Sarah Oliver,
Money and Investing Writer

The Russian central bank, as well as private banks, fell victim to a series of cyberattacks in which hackers attempt to steal 5 billion rubles, which translates to approximately 80 million USD. The Russian central banking authority managed to stop part of the attack, saving 3 billion rubles. The hackers still managed to get away with 2 billion rubles (31 million dollars). The amount represents the total amount stolen over the course of 2016.
Artyom Sychyov, a central bank official, stated that hackers used client’s credentials in order to make their way into the system. The Russian bank provided details within a report stating the nature of the attacks and possible reasoning behind them. It is believed that the attacks stem from foreign spies after it was concluded that hackers were also spreading false rumors about Russian banks.

Hackers tried to create panic by spreading news that these banks were failing and were no longer financially stable. After further investigation it is believed that the attacks came from servers based in the Netherlands, where hackers disrupted websites by flooding them with target data.

The recent attacks on the Russian banks are not the only form of financial hacking that has occurred throughout the world recently. Three of the largest attacks in 2015 and 2016 were the attack on the Ecuadorian Banco del Austro, the attack on Vietnam’s Tien Phong Commercial Joint Stock Bank, and the attack on Bangladesh Central Bank.

The financial sector has become one of the largest areas for cyber-attacks over the past two years. With such a large increase in online banking by people all over the world, some may wonder if increase use in mobile baking is to blame for these cyber-attacks.
While the nature of these three attacks were aimed directly at the financial institutions and not at the customers themselves, it still arises fear in mobile bankers who put their trust in these financial institutions.

It is believed by the banking authority that the hackers of the Russian bank used client’s credentials to hack into the private Russian banks. Although officials are not positive how the hackers accessed this information, there is a possibility that they uncovered these credentials through the increase in mobile banking.

The FDIC provides ways that mobile bankers can protect themselves on their website. Some of these ways include, “be proactive in securing the mobile device itself, be careful about where and how you conduct transactions, take additional precautions in case your device is lost or stolen, research any application before downloading it, and be on guard against unsolicited e-mails or text messages appearing to link to a financial institution’s Web site.”

The false messages that the hackers of the Russian banks sent out were in the form of emails, text messages, and social media posts. These emails are typically sent out requiring bankers to verify some type of information, which provides hackers with access to these financial institutions.

As bankers continue to increase their use of mobile banking, hackers are gaining more intelligence on how to access these accounts. Financial protection is put in place to prevent attacks such as these, but as individual bankers, it is important to monitor mobile banking and ensure our own safety.

A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, December 13th print edition.

Contact Sarah at


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