Sri Lanka nabs suspects in bank hacking attack
Posted on October 9th, 2017

Courtesy Taipei Times

The Criminal Investigation Bureau (CIB) yesterday said that two Sri Lankan citizens accused of helping hackers steal about US$60 million from Far Eastern International Bank (遠東商銀) have been arrested in the South Asian country.

The Financial Supervisory Commission said that while most of the stolen funds were recovered, about US$500,000 remains unaccounted for.

CIB section chief Chiu Shao-chou (邱紹洲) said one suspect was captured by Sri Lankan police when he tried to withdraw about US$26,000 after the money was wired to his account from Taiwan on Friday.

Sri Lankan police have found some other people, but whether they are involved would need to be investigated, Chiu said.

Sri Lankan media cited international wire reports as saying that one suspect is an executive of a Sri Lankan state-owned enterprise and has a bank account in the name of J.C. Nammuni.

There was no information as of press time last night about the identity of the second suspect who was arrested.

Far Eastern International Bank (遠東商銀) on Friday said it reported to the commission and the CIB that it had discovered its computer system had been infected with malware, which affected some of its PCs and servers, as well as the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication’s (SWIFT) network.

SWIFT provides safe and secure financial transactions for members of the organization via a standardized proprietary communication platform that can facilitate the transmission of information about transactions.

According to Far Eastern Bank, the malware allowed the hackers to wire about US$60 million from the accounts of the bank’s clients to foreign destinations.

The CIB plans to send a team, including Far Eastern Bank information technology staff, to Sri Lanka to help with the investigation and provide assistance to local police.

The bureau said it needs time to prepare for the delegation, as Taiwan does not have diplomatic relations with Sri Lanka and no Taiwanese representatives are stationed there.

After the bureau received the report from Far Eastern Bank, it identified some servers in the US and the Netherlands that were used by the hackers to wire funds from the bank to overseas, Chiu said.

The bureau has provided information about the case to police in the US and Europe after asking for their assistance, he said.

It is the first case of a Taiwanese bank experiencing such a serious hacking incident, he said.

Banking Bureau Deputy Director Sherri Chuang (莊琇媛) said Far Eastern Bank has recovered US$57 million that had been wired to Cambodia, US$1 million that was sent to the US and US$1.6 million sent to Sri Lanka.

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