Spy Game? SWIFT Denies NSA Keeping Tabs on Middle Eastern Banks

SWIFT and EastNets shot down rumors that the NSA hacked their systems to spy on Middle Eastern Banks.

SWIFT, a global provider of financial messaging services, shot down rumors that its network and EastNets were infiltrated by the US’ National Security Agency (NSA). Earlier reports suggested the NSA had accessed a backdoor to the bank network to plant spyware and monitor data traffic across a number of Middle East banks.

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The claims originated from an elite hacking group known as Shadow Brokers in a recent blog post. These come on the heels of a recent bombing in Syria from the Trump administration, which has drawn opposition from several groups, including pro-Russian entities.

Russian Ties?

Shadow Brokers crew is believed to be tied to Russia, according to many independent security officials. The group allegedly unmasked a wide range of hacking tools that were apparently deployed by the US spy agency. Shadow Brokers accused the NSA of hacking into Microsoft systems as well as infiltrating a SWIFT Service Bureau run by EastNets.

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Shadow Brokers leaked several documents, including a now-patched NSA road map to hacking SWIFT’s back-end infrastructure, which could be used by cybercriminals in the future.

For their part, Both Swift and EastNets have denied these reports that the NSA accessed a backdoor to the bank network to plant spyware and monitor data traffic from a number of Middle East banks. Such a move, if ultimately proven true, would severely undermine the credibility of SWIFT, which is still looking to move past the hacking of its network last year.

Rather, the claims appear to be politically motivated, voicing opposition to attacks that have been met with condemnation in pro-Russian circles. EastNets Bureau presently connects upwards of 260 banks to the SWIFT messaging network, including some of the largest financial institutions in the Middle East.

According to a Group statement, “the EastNets Network internal Security Unit has ran a complete check of its servers and found no hacker compromise or any vulnerabilities. The EastNets Service Bureau runs on a separate secure network that cannot be accessed over the public networks. The photos shown on twitter, claiming compromised information, is about pages that are outdated and obsolete, generated on a low-level internal server that is retired since 2013.”

Hazem Mulhim

In addition, “While we cannot ascertain the information that has been published, we can confirm that no EastNets customer data has been compromised in any way, EastNets continues to guarantee the complete safety and security of its customers data with the highest levels of protection from its Swift certified Service burea,” explained Hazem Mulhim, CEO and Founder EastNets.

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