Hackers targeted Turkish lender Akbank in a cyber attack on the SWIFT global money transfer system, the bank said, adding it faced a liability of up to $4 million from the incident but no customer information was compromised.
It was not immediately clear how much, if any, money had been stolen. The bank did not immediately respond to a Reuters request to clarify whether any funds had been stolen.
Banks are facing an escalating threat to their systems as hackers have become more sophisticated, Reuters reported this week. Attacks targeting the system have succeeded in stealing funds since February’s heist of $81 million from the Bangladesh central bank.
In an emailed statement, Akbank said it had been targeted in a SWIFT attack on Dec. 8.
It said it had immediately taken preventive measures and informed authorities and its systems were working properly. There was no security breach or loss affecting its customers, it said.
“This has no impact on Akbank’s operations or financials. The maximum risk Akbank would face is $4 million,” it said, adding that any potential losses would be covered by insurance.
In a statement, SWIFT said it did not comment on individual entities, adding: “We have no indication that our network and core messaging services have been compromised.”
SWIFT is a Belgium-based co-operative owned by its user banks, which include both central banks and commercial banks. It handles trillions of dollars in fund transfers daily, and is considered the backbone of international banking.
Founded in 1973, SWIFT operates a secure messaging network that has been considered reliable for four decades. But recent attacks underscore how its central role in global finance also presents a systemic risk.
Recent thefts and attempted thefts have involved criminals sending fraudulent SWIFT payment instructions after gaining access to a bank’s SWIFT interface, either by hacking or with the co-operation of local bank staff.
In February, hackers used stolen Bangladesh Bank credentials to send SWIFT messages requesting the transfer of nearly $1 billion from its correspondent account at the New York Federal Reserve. The hackers succeeded in transferring $81 million to four accounts in Manila.
Shares of Akbank, Turkey’s third-largest listed bank by assets, were down 0.5 percent at 7.92 lira by 1117 GMT, compared with a 0.3 percent decline in the Istanbul stock exchange’s index of bank stocks.
(Additional reporting by Tom Bergin in London; writing by David Dolan; editing by Nick Tattersall and Susan Thomas)
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