Russian central bank, private banks lose $31 mln in cyber attacks

A padlock is displayed at the Alert Logic booth during the 2016 Black Hat cyber-security conference in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S. August 3, 2016. REUTERS/David Becker

MOSCOW (Reuters) - (This December 2 story corrects to show the 2 billion rubles is combined amount stolen from accounts in central bank and commercial banks, not from central bank alone; clarifies that the figures are total stolen in cyberattacks for the year to date)

Hackers stole more than 2 billion rubles ($31 million) from correspondent accounts at the Russian central bank and from accounts in commercial banks, the bank said on Friday, the latest example of an escalation of cyber attacks on financial institutions around the globe.

Central bank official Artyom Sychyov discussed the losses at a briefing, saying that the hackers had attempted to steal about 5 billion rubles. He said the figures were the totals recorded stolen, or the target of attempted theft, in cyber attacks over the course of 2016.

Sychyov was commenting on a central bank report released earlier in the day, that told of hackers breaking into accounts there by faking a client’s credentials. The bank provided few other details in its lengthy report.

Financial regulators around the world have recently urged banks to beef up cyber security in the wake of a string of high-profile heists on banks around the world.

Fears about attacks on banks have mounted since February when unknown cyber criminals stole $81 million in funds that Bangladesh’s central bank had on deposit at the New York Fed. Law enforcement agencies around the globe are hunting for the criminals who stole the money using fraudulent wire-transfer requests sent over the SWIFT bank messaging network.

Separately, Russia said on Friday that it had uncovered a plot by foreign spy agencies to sow chaos in the country’s banking system via a coordinated wave of cyber attacks and fake social media reports about banks going bust.

($1 = 63.8300 rubles)

Reporting by Andrey Ostroukh and Elena Fabrichnaya; writing by Katya Golubkova and Jim Finkle; editing by Vladimir Soldatkin and David Gregorio