Merry Christmas to Citibank US! :)

Russian hackers ‘stole from US banks’

THE FBI is investigating the activities of a notorious Russian internet gang amid accusations that it stole tens of millions of dollars from US banks.

The hackers, known as the Russian Business Network, had been quiet for two years after masterminding a string of crimes including identity theft, fraud, spam and child pornography.

But the gang could be back in action, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal, which suggested that Citigroup was the focus of a US federal investigation linked to the Russian group.

The newspaper claimed that an attack believed to have been orchestrated by the network netted large sums of money after targeting Citigroup’s computer systems.

Reports of the cyber attack came as the White House yesterday named Howard Schmidt as its head of cyber security. Mr Schmidt, who had a similar role for several years under George Bush, will co-ordinate US government, military and intelligence efforts to repel hackers.

There has been a string of reports about hacking attacks on the US Government in recent months, as well as the theft of more than £5 million ($9 million) from systems belonging to the Royal Bank of Scotland. The threats led the US President, Barack Obama, to declare that defence against internet attacks was a ”national security priority” – a shift which culminated in Mr Schmidt’s appointment.

Citigroup, the world’s largest financial services company, has rejected suggestions that the FBI is investigating an incident at the bank, and denied that a raid of such proportions had taken place.

”We had no breach of the system and there were no losses, no customer losses, no bank losses,” said Joe Petro, the managing director of Citigroup’s security and investigative services. ”Any allegation that the FBI is working a case at Citigroup involving tens of millions of losses is just not true.”

Instead, a spokesman said, the company is aware of one customer whose account was drained of more than $US1 million after being hacked.

The nature of the attack remains contested, but the reports mark a significant comeback for one of the internet’s most high-profile crime groups. The organisation disappeared from view in 2007 after moving its operations from St Petersburg to China. The extended absence had left some wondering whether it had disbanded, but experts familiar with the network’s activities suggested that its influence on organised crime was still strong.

”All signs point to a dramatic rise in cyber crime,” said Anton Chuvakin, a computer security expert based in San Jose.

It would not be the first time that Citigroup or its customers had been targeted by computer criminals. Earlier this year Albert Gonzalez, a 28-year-old hacker from Florida, was charged by US prosecutors with organising a series of computer attacks that netted millions over the course of several years.

Citibank was among the groups targeted by the strikes, which resulted in more than 45 million credit card numbers being stolen.

Last weekend, it emerged that the Russian military had been meeting Washington officials to discuss potential collaboration over internet security and cyber defence. Such a move would mark a breakthrough in the often frosty relations between the two countries over their activities online.

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p/s ; aku terbaca surat khabar Utusan kot mase aku kat Hospital Serdang. Tu yang aku tergerak nk post artikel ni..

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