Hacking into Taiwan bank: CID arrests main suspect


Sri Lanka police have arrested a suspect for allegedly helping international criminals who hacked into computers at a Taiwan bank and stole millions of dollars, says an official.

Police investigations have revealed that a son of a former high ranking military officer and a Chairman of a leading company in Sri Lanka are linked to this case.

The CID arrested the former military officer’s son on Saturday and was remanded until 11th of this month.

The other suspect is evading arrest and he has in his possession a large sum of money, withdrew illegally, the Police said.

The arrested suspect has been charged under Money Laundering Act.

Meanwhile, a court order has been obtained suspending foreign travel for the company chairman who is evading arrest.

The police Criminal Investigation Department was working closely with Taiwan counterparts to track down the hackers, who are said to have breached the Taiwan bank’s computers last week.

Sri Lankan police investigated a similar theft in February last year when hackers broke into the computer system of the Bangladesh Central Bank and transferred $20m of stolen money to a Sri Lankan businesswoman.

Taiwan Premier Lai Ching-te on Saturday (07) requested relevant agencies review Taiwan’s information security after Far Eastern International Bank reported its system was hacked earlier in the week.

The premier has been fully informed of the incident and had instructed the government to learn from the case and tighten information security by closing loopholes, according to Cabinet spokesman Hsu Kuo-yung.

On Friday, Far Eastern Bank said it reported to the Financial Supervisory Commission that its computer system had been implanted with malware, which affected some of its PCs and servers as well as the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication’s network.

The SWIFT is a member-only organization which provides safe and secure financial transactions for its members via a standardized proprietary communications platform that can facilitate the transmission of information about financial transactions.

Through the planted malware, hackers conducted virtual transactions to move funds totalling nearly US$ 60 million from Far Eastern Bank customers’ accounts to some foreign destinations such as Sri Lanka, Cambodia and the United States, the bank found on Tuesday.

However, according to the bank, due to its efforts to trace back the lost funds, the hacker attacks cost the bank less than US$ 500,000.

It added that since the bank continues to trace the lost funds by underpinning certain fund movements, the loss could be reduced to zero.

It said the hacking did not lead to any leaks of customer information.

Liu Lung-kuang vice president of the bank told the press on Saturday that the origin of the malware has not been confirmed, but the bank is sure that the computer virus used to attack the bank’s transaction system is a new variety that has been never been spotted before.

The Criminal Investigation Bureau (CIB) said on Saturday it has launched an investigation into the hacking incident by requesting the bank submit details about its computer operations after the bank reported the case to the bureau on Thursday.

The CIB said that it has also informed the International Criminal Police Organization of the case and asked for assistance.

The CIB added similar hacking cases were reported in Vietnam and Bangladesh in 2015-2016.

It was the first case of a Taiwanese bank suffering from such a hacking incident in which malware was implanted to transfer massive amounts of funds out of the bank’s customer accounts.



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