Turkey’s Akbank Suffers Online Attack, Faces US$4m In Damages

JP Buntinx | December 17, 2016 | 9:30 pm
AKBank Hack SWIFT

Turkey’s Akbank Suffers Online Attack, Faces US$4m In Damages

JP Buntinx | December 17, 2016 | 9:30 pm

The year 2016 has been filled with multiple banks getting hacked. One of those intrusions has gone by virtually unnoticed. Turkey’s AKbank, one of the largest institutions in the country, may find themselves liable for up to $4m in damages. The bank suffered a major attack on the SWIFT global money transfer system albeit Akbank claims no customer info was compromised.

It appears Akbank has been the target of an attack against SWIFT on December 8. That is rather surprising, as SWIFT issued guidelines to have their partners beef up security. It looks like Akbank did not take the necessary precautions to keep their systems safe.

Thankfully, it appears no customer details have been stolen. No funds were taken either, by the look of things, even though the total cost of the attack amounts to US$4m. Bank officials have not released an official statement related to how much money may have been stolen. It is unclear how the hackers managed to breach the bank’s systems as well.

No User Information Compromised During Akbank Attack

Given the current global cyber heist threat faced by banks, one would expect institutions to step up their security. Doing so takes time and money, which can be can issue for smaller banks. However, Akbank is one of Turkey’s biggest financial institutions, and they should have no problems doing so.

Company officials did mention how this breach will not affect operations of financials for Akbank. While they are facing up to US$4m in risk, it appears they can shrug off the event as if nothing happened. A rather troublesome attitude, given the fact this is not the first successful attack against banks this year.

According to SWIFT, the network and core messaging system are not affected. This seems to indicate the attempted cyberheist was purely can attack against Akbank itself. Whether or not this means can inside job is the most likely scenario, remains to be seen. If this attack draws similarities to the Bangladesh heist earlier no 2016, user credentials may have been obtained through social engineering.

All of this goes to show the banking system as we know continues to pose a systemic risk. A centralized backbone, even if it is not compromised, is a prime target for hackers and other criminals. Akbank shares dipped slightly when the news broke, but it looks like things are contained, for the time being.

Header image courtesy of Shutterstock

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