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Beware! Dangerous hacker Lazarus on a spin of looting ATMs

Speed News Desk | Updated on: 10 November 2018, 17:01 IST

Cybercrime incidents have gained momentum since last few years. The cyber criminals are actively targeting users or groups through Malware attacks and hack jobs. A recent name in the list is ATM hacking, which has seen a jump in the last few months, adding to the concern of the cyber security firms.

In a latest report issued by security firm Symantec, it has been revealed that one of the most high-profile and dangerous group of cybercriminals have been ‘emptying’ ATMs across Asia and Africa.

Lazarus, the group involved in cybercrime and espionage, has been accused of conducting 'FASTCash' attacks, stealing money from Automated Teller Machines from banks in Africa and Asia since 2016. The cyber attack group is responsible for previous attacks on Sony Picture and more recently theft of nearly $81 million from Bangladesh Central Bank and involvement in WannaCry ransomware.

Following US-CERT's report, Symantec, the security solutions provider, uncovered the key component used in the financial attacks. The operation, called 'FASTCash', has allowed Lazarus to empty ATMs of cash.

Recently, the US-CERT, the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of the Treasury, and the FBI issued an alert about ATM thefts. According to this new alert, Hidden Cobra has been behind attacks on ATMs globally.

To make fraudulent withdrawals, Lazarus first breaches targeted banks’ networks and compromises the switch application servers handling ATM transactions, as per the report from Symantec.

Once the breach has taken place, 'Trojan.Fastcash' malware is deployed. The malware then intercepts 'fraudulent' Lazarus cash withdrawal requests and sends fake approval responses, allowing the hackers to make away with cash from ATMs, according to Symantec. The Lazarus FASTCash operation is said to have amassed tens of millions of dollars.

According to Symantec, it is clear that “Lazarus possesses an in-depth knowledge of banking systems and transaction processing protocols and has the expertise to leverage that knowledge in order to steal large sums from vulnerable banks.”

First published: 10 November 2018, 17:01 IST