Thursday, August 06, 2009

Cyber Attackers Empty Business Accounts in Minutes

Robert McMillan writes on ComputerWorld:

The criminals knew what they were doing when they hit the Western Beaver County School District.

They waited until school administrators were away on holiday, and then during a four-day period between Dec. 29 and Jan. 2, siphoned US$704,610.35 out of two of the school district's bank accounts. Western Beaver's financial institution, ESB Bank, managed to reverse some of the transfers, but the Pennsylvania school district was out more than $441,000.

On July 9, Western Beaver sued ESB to try and recover the money, but security experts say that it's just one of many organizations that have been hit in recent months by a disturbing new type of financial fraud that can often leave the victim holding the bag.

Fraudsters are taking advantage of the widely used but obscure Automated Clearing House (ACH) Network in order to pull off their attacks. This financial network is used by financial institutions to handle direct deposits, checks, bill payments and cash transfers between businesses and individuals.

In April, ACH fraudsters moved $1.2 million out of a Sugar Land, Texas, importer called Unique Industrial Products, according to a report in the Houston Chronicle. They did this by hacking into the company's computers and then authorizing 39 transfers to move the money out of Unique Industrial's account. Although the bulk of the money was recovered, scammers made $150,000 from the attack -- not bad for 30 minutes of work.

More here.


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