Russian 'Silence' hacking crew turns up the volume – with $3m-plus cyber-raid on bank's cash machines

Dutch Bangla falls victim to coordinated ATM scam

A prominent Russian hacker crew is seemingly expanding its reach – having just pulled off a multi-million dollar cyber-heist in Bangladesh, we're told.

Singapore-based security outfit Group-IB told The Reg it believes the crooks, dubbed Silence, stole at least $3m (£2.4m) from Bangladesh-based Dutch-Bangla Bank via a string of cash-machine withdrawals over a span of several days.

The cyber-gang made a name for itself last year by breaking into various bank networks using purpose-built exploits and tools. The group is extremely small, possibly made up of as few as two people, though it appears to be extremely smart and armed with a considerable arsenal of malicious code written by its members.

In this latest caper, according to the authorities, the group was able to infiltrate the Dutch-Bangla Bank's network, install malware on its PCs, and seize control of its card processing system, allowing them to, apparently, order individual ATMs to dispense cash without alerting the rest of the bank's network.

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With the card system under their control, the hackers then sent people from Ukraine – possibly either group members or just hired money mules – to visit various ATM locations in Bangladesh and make fraudulent withdrawals that were processed by the compromised card system and thus approved: the hacked backend OK'd the withdrawals. Team Group-IB said the mules were on their phones before each withdrawal, likely in order to coordinate with the person remotely allowing the machines to dispense cash.

When all was said and done, Group-IB said, the criminals made off with at least $3m from Dutch Bangla alone.

The researchers believe the attack is the start of a larger campaign from Silence as the hacking operation looks to expand from regional attacks in Eastern Europe and move further into Asia in order to go after higher-value targets.

"Having tested their tools and techniques in Russia, Silence has gained the confidence and skill necessary to be an international threat to international banks and corporations. Asia particularly draws cybercriminals' attention," noted Group-IB head of dynamic analysis of malicious code Rustam Mirkasymov.

"Dutch Bangla Bank is not the first Silence victim in the region. In total, we are aware of at least four targets Silence attacked in Asia recently."

By the time you read this, there should be more details over on the Group-IB website. ®

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