Senators urge global action on cyber bank robbers

U.S. President Barack Obama should raise the issue of online bank robberies and other cyberattacks on the worldwide financial system at the upcoming G20 gathering of global leaders in China, six democratic senators urged this week.

Sen. Mark Warner, D-Virginia, one of six senators who are urging President Barack Obama to raise the issue at the G20 summit this weekend.

President Barack Obama should raise the issue of online bank robberies and other cyberattacks on the worldwide financial system at the upcoming G20 gathering of global leaders in China, six democratic senators urged this week.

“Cyberattacks on financial institutions have accelerated in recent years, creating significant risks for our international financial system and our global economy,” write the senators in a letter released Tuesday.

The news comes as Reuters reports the SWIFT global interbank messaging organization has been warning banks about about new online heists, following the online looting of the Bank of Bangladesh, which lost $81 million when hackers compromised the identity credentials of personnel with access to the SWIFT system, and used that to send transfer orders.


“Customers’ environments have been compromised, and subsequent attempts made to send fraudulent payment instructions,” Reuters quotes a private letter to banks Tuesday from SWIFT. “The threat is persistent, adaptive and sophisticated – and it is here to stay.”

The six senators, Mark Warner of Virginia, Gary Peters and Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and Martin Heinrich of New Mexico, write in their letter that the issues “merit attention not only in finance ministries and central banks, but also in executive leadership circles across the globe.”

The letter highlights the systemic risks posed by efforts to undermine the integrity of mechanisms like the SWIFT systems.

“Our financial institutions are connected in order to facilitate global commerce, but cyber criminals — whether independent or state-sponsored — imperil this international system in a way few threats have,” the senators write.

[Read More: North Korean malware linked to Bangladesh bank hack]


Reports this year have linked malware used in the Bangladesh heist to the North Korean hackers who attacked Sony Pictures Entertainment in 2014. But one lawmaker in the Philippines has blamed Chinese hackers, citing a network of Chinese people involved in the routing of the stolen funds through Manila.

“We strongly urge you to work with your counterparts and prioritize this discussion at the G20 leaders level in September,” the senators write of the summit to be held in Hangzhou, China this weekend.

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