If three makes a trend, then it's official: The global banking system is under attack.
The methods used by hackers to attack banks in Vietnam and Bangladesh appear to have been deployed over a year ago in a heist in Ecuador.
The January 2015 attack on Banco del Austro is described in a lawsuit filed by the bank in a New York federal court. It ended with thieves transferring $12 million to accounts in Hong Kong, Dubai, New York and Los Angeles, according to court documents.
The existence of the lawsuit was first reported Friday by the Wall Street Journal, just one week after global banking communications network SWIFT instructed clients to secure their local computer networks.
SWIFT, or the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, warned customers that two previous attacks against banks in Bangladesh and Vietnam appeared to be "part of a wider and highly adaptive campaign."
The hacks targeting banks in Asia follow the pattern described by Banco del Austro:
- Attackers used malware to circumvent a bank's local security systems.
- They gained access to the SWIFT messaging network.
- Fraudulent messages were sent via SWIFT to initiate cash transfers from accounts at larger banks.