Cyberthieves steal millions from US banks-FBI

WASHINGTON Tue May 19, 2009 3:44pm EDT

WASHINGTON May 19 (Reuters) - U.S. banks have lost hundreds of millions of dollars to cyberthieves who have electronically broken into ATMs and forged electronic transfers, a top FBI agent said on Tuesday.

"Particularly in the last couple of years, the threats have spiked," said Shawn Henry, the agency's assistant director of its cyber division. "Attacks on our financial sector are significant, to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars."

The bureau knew of one bank whose security system was breached and which lost $10 million in cash in a day, while another lost $5 million, enough to put it out of business.

"The bank was in business on Friday (and) was out of business on Monday," he said. Henry did not identify either bank.

President Barack Obama's proposed fiscal 2010 budget, announced in late February, included $355 million for the Department of Homeland Security to make private- and public-sector cyber infrastructure more resilient and secure.

The administration also said it would put "substantial" funding for cybersecurity efforts into the national intelligence program, but gave no details.

Obama had asked for a cybersecurity audit that was due in mid-April.

"The intent is to release that report," Henry said. "I think it's imminent, in the next couple of weeks." (Reporting by Diane Bartz, editing by Leslie Gevirtz)