February 13, 2018 / 10:38 AM / 9 days ago

Russia says hackers stole more than $17 million from its banks in 2017

MAGNITOGORSK, Russia (Reuters) - Hackers stole more than 1 billion roubles ($17 million) from Russian banks using the Cobalt Strike security-testing tool in 2017, a central bank official said on Tuesday.

Russia is under intense scrutiny over cyber crime following allegations hackers backed by Moscow have attacked targets in the United States and Europe, accusations the Kremlin has repeatedly denied.

Russian authorities are now keen to show that Russia too is a frequent victim of cyber crime and that they are working hard to combat it.

Central bank Deputy Governor Dmitry Skobelkin told an information security conference in the Russian city of Magnitogorsk that 21 “waves of attacks” using Cobalt Strike had been recorded in 2017.

“More than 240 credit organizations were hit by the attacks, 11 of which were successful. The amount stolen was more than 1 billion roubles,” he said.

Cobalt Strike is a security tool used to test the strength of an organization’s cyber defenses, but it has also been used by hackers to attack banks in Russia and Europe.

A group known as Cobalt because of their use of the tool attacked cash machines in more than a dozen countries in 2016, using the malicious software to force the ATMs to spit out cash.

Skobelkin said the Russian central bank had sent warnings to more than 400 organizations which were targeted by the Cobalt group last year.

($1 = 57.8102 roubles)

Reporting by Jack Stubbs; Editing by Katya Golubkova and Susan Fenton

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