U.S. authorities have revealed that two companies with major operations in India, and GCC banks, were targeted by a cell of global cyber criminals.
EnStage Inc and ElectraCard Services are the two companies which were affected by the USD 45 million theft. According to U.S. prosecutors, hackers broke into the two card processing companies, raised the balances and withdrawal limits on accounts to coordinate ATM withdrawals around the world. MasterCard, the network under which the cards were issued, has claimed that it remained unaffected and there was no compromise of its security.
ElectraCard Services, the processor of prepaid travel cards for National Bank of Ras Al Khaimah PSC, suffered a USD 5 million coordinated heist at ATM’s around the world in December 21 last year. EnStage, which processed card payments for Bank of Muscat of Oman, is believed to have faced a loss of USD 40 million in coordinated attacks carried out this year in February. The companies have beefed-up their security arrangements and enhanced monitoring since the incident.
The global cyber heist was unprecedented in terms of its global scope and speed. U.S. authorities said the global gang had operatives in 27 countries, and they withdrew money from thousands of ATM’s using fraudulent prepaid debit cards. So far, the U.S. Justice Department has indicted eight men on charges of forming the New York cell of the organization. The authorities have so far arrested seven out of these eight members. Besides the U.S., Germany is the only other country to have carried out arrests in this case.
The heist is expected to adversely impact the business of smaller processing firms as banks and other retailers choose not to take risks in managing their information security.