North Korean Connection? Fed Explores Link to $81 Million Heist, SWIFT Breach

US authorities are investigating a potential link to last year's $81 million heist with North Korean hackers.

Nearly one year after an attempted heist of $1.0 billion from the Bangladesh Central Bank fund at the New York Fed via the hack of SWIFT’s software system, US authorities are investigating any links or traces of the funds that have since disappeared.

While the original theft was potentially much larger, the majority of the payments were blocked, which resulted in no material losses – still over $81 million was routed to accounts in the Philippines and diverted to casinos there, which was the last stop that any regulatory authorities could trace the funds to.

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US authorities at the NY Federal Reserve are now investigating any potential links with the heist to North Korea, given the similarity of the hack and digital footprint with other episodes of cyber attacks such as the incident against Sony Pictures, according to a Bloomberg report.

Under Seige

North Korea’s status as a pariah state extends into the world of banking and digital payments, which SWIFT doubled down on last month in a bid to close any potential loopholes into banking transactions. Still, hackers in the country have increasingly been able to launch successful attacks against banks and other organizations, with vulnerable defenses helping facilitate varied levels of success.

The ramifications of a link are manifold given North Korea’s capabilities of assaulting a bank. Such a revelation could prove problematic given that most Western countries maintain no diplomatic relations with the country. Regardless, banks, SWIFT, and other organizations have been strengthening their cybersecurity measures in the face of such threats, though gaping holes in defenses remain.

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