cybersecurity

FBI, NSA and US Secret Service Investigate Hacks at Five US Banks

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JPMorgan and at least four other US banks were hacked this month, according to several reports on Wednesday. While cybersecurity experts and law enforcement continue to investigate the attacks, JPMorgan told the Wall Street Journal on Thursday that it hasn’t seen any “unusual fraud” and is taking “additional steps” to safeguard confidential information.

According to a report by the New York Times, hackers got into the banks’ networks, and were able to steal “gigabytes of data, including checking and savings account information, in what security experts described as a sophisticated cyberattack.

“We are working with the United States Secret Service to determine the scope of recently reported cyber attacks against several American financial institutions,” Federal Bureau of Investigation spokesman Joshua Campbell said in a statement late Wednesday. The NSA is also providing support.

“Companies of our size unfortunately experience cyber attacks nearly every day. We have multiple, layers of defense to counteract any threats and constantly monitor fraud levels,” JPMorgan spokesman Brian Marchiony said in a statement. In a 2013 letter to shareholders, CEO Jamie Dimon wrote that JPMorgan spends about $200 million each year on cyber attack protection.

Unfortunately the US government often keeps cybersecurity threats it discovers a secret, which may make defense against attacks more difficult for the private sector.

Banks have been a strong target for hackers over the years, mostly motivated by financial theft. In 2012, a hacker leaked information about 79 banks in the US, UK and Canada. Citibank was hacked in 2011. In June, hackers stole 500,000 Euros from a European bank.

According to Bloomberg, citing two people familiar with the investigation, the attacks on Chase and others this month were perpetrated by Russian hackers.

“At least one of the banks has linked the breach to Russian state-sponsored hackers,” said one of the sources. The second source claimed that the FBI is investigating whether the attack could have been in retaliation to US-imposed sanctions on Russia. Russian involvement has yet to be confirmed by other sources.

A US official told Bloomberg that information gained during the attack could be used to drain funds. They also said European banks may be among the victims.

According to the Bloomberg report, the hackers used a zero-day flaw in at least one of the attacks. One security professional said the attack was “far beyond the capability of ordinary criminal hackers.” The sophistication and technology used in the attack could provide further evidence to indicate possible government involvement.

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