Date
17 November 2017
A British cyber-security firm believes a North Korea-linked hacking group may be responsible for a cyber-heist targeting a Taiwan bank. Photo: Reuters
A British cyber-security firm believes a North Korea-linked hacking group may be responsible for a cyber-heist targeting a Taiwan bank. Photo: Reuters

N Korea suspected to be behind Taiwan SWIFT cyber-heist

A British technology firm believes the North Korean Lazarus hacking group may be behind a recent cyber-heist in Taiwan, the latest in a string of hacks targeting the global SWIFT messaging system, Reuters reports.

“The likely culprit is Lazarus,” the report quoted Adrian Nish, cyber-intelligence chief of BAE Systems, as saying.

BAE has previously linked Lazarus to last year’s US$81 million cyber-heist at Bangladesh’s central bank, as have other cyber firms including Russia’s Kaspersky Lab and California-based Symantec.

BAE’s claim that Lazarus is likely responsible for the hack on Taiwan’s Far Eastern International Bank prompts observers to suspect that North Korea continues to seek to generate cash through hacking.

Nish told Reuters that he expects the group to continue to target banks.

“They are not just going to go away. They’ve built the tools. They are going to keep going back,” he said.

Still, he noted that the group appears to have had difficulty in pulling funds out of the banking system, after the massive Bangladesh heist, which prompted SWIFT and banks to boost security controls.

Taiwan’s Central News Agency reported last week that while hackers sought to steal some US$60 million from Far Eastern Bank, all but US$500,000 had been recovered by the bank.

BAE previously disclosed that Lazarus attempted to steal money from banks in Mexico and Poland, though there is no evidence the effort succeeded.

A security executive with SWIFT, a Belgium-based co-operative owned by banks, told Reuters last week that hackers have continued to target the message system this year, though many attempts have been thwarted by the new security controls.

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RC

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