SWIFT responsible for the BB cyber heist: Farashuddin

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Dhaka, May 15: The head of the probe body formed the Bangladesh Bank (BB) heist on Sunday blamed the SWIFT (Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication) responsible for the cyber heist of foreign exchange reserves of Bangladesh kept at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

“The authority of SWIFT is responsible for the theft of Bangladesh Bank Reserve. Concerned central bank officials have also been negligent. And the Federal Reserve Bank also cannot deny responsibility,” former governor of BB Mohammad Farashuddin, who is also the head of the probe body said.

He said, “Either Pakistani or North Korean hackers used Malware in stealing US$101 million from BB account with Federal Reserve Bank.”

The malware was installed at the server of Bangladesh central bank for stealing the money, he added.

“The authority of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York cannot ignore the theft,” he said this to the journalists while coming out of the BB office on Sunday.

On February 4, US$101 million was stolen by hackers from the Bangladesh Bank’s reserve with the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, through Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation (RCBC) in the Philippines and Pan Asia Banking Corporation in Sri Lanka.

Criminal Investigation Department of Bangladesh Police and BB officials said that the SWIFT server of Bangladesh Bank became vulnerable to the hackers for the negligence of SWIFT technicians.

They said the $20 million sent to Sri Lanka was recovered but the rest of the $81 million went to Philippines.

Meanwhile, on May 9, SWIFT rejected the allegations by Bangladeshi officials that technicians with the global banking system made the nation’s central bank more vulnerable to hacking before an $81 million cyber heist in February.

SWIFT in a statement said it’s not their responsibility to ensure cyber security of the its members including Bangladesh Bank. SWIFT also sent the same statement to its member banks.

Bangladesh Bank appointed US based cyber security company world informatics and fire eye to investigate the technical aspects of the reserve theft.

After getting a portion of the probe report of the cyber security, Reuters in a report said, still three hacking groups are still lurking on the Bangladesh Bank network.

Even citing the same investigation of cyber security Bloomberg news said, of the three hacking groups, one from Pakistan and another from North Korea. It hasn’t found enough data to determine where the third group, the actual culprit, was a criminal network or the agent of another nation.

In reply to a question, Farashuddin told the journalists that the Malware was generated either in Pakistan or Korea.

He said, “We, in our interim probe report, suggested the Bangladesh government to put pressure on the RCBC bank of Philippines to realise money. Diplomatic readiness is necessary to realise whole money.”

The Farashuddin led probe committee on April 20 submitted their interim report to the government but the finance minister AMA Muhith did not agree to reveal the report before the completion of the full report.

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