Europol has captured the leader of a cybercrime gang that used email malware to take control of bank systems. This was revealed yesterday, in an article written on the organization’s webpage.
The band used highly advanced malware to gain access to the bank internal systems. Two tools were used for this purpose: Carbanak and Cobalt. Carbanak was an evolution of Anunak, the malware discovered in 2014 by Karsperky Labs used to target ATM operations and bank wires. Then they used Cobalt, a more sophisticated malware to take control of banking PC’s remotely, giving them liberty to do as they pleased.
The band operated in all the European Union, and it is calculated to have stolen more than 1 billion euros; around 10 million per heist. This would make it one of the biggest bands in the history of cyber theft. They operated in three ways: programming ATM’s to dispense money at certain times, inflating bank accounts with money and then withdrawing it, and sending wires to the money mules to then cash out.
The sad fact is that the criminals laundered the money trough cryptocurrencies. This is a bad thing for all the cryptocurrency world; no one wants to be affiliated with unlawful activities. Given the anonymous trait of cryptocurrencies, criminals are naturally attracted to the idea of doing business and laundering money with it. The article states:
The criminal profits were also laundered via cryptocurrencies, by means of prepaid cards linked to the cryptocurrency wallets which were used to buy goods such as luxury cars and houses”
They don’ mention if the prepaid card companies enforced KYC (Know Your Customer) policies. That’s why regulation is so important at an international level, to try to avoid criminals to circumvent detection from the authorities. Big crypto countries like Japan and South Korea enforce this kind of policies to avoid developments like this. Giving up anonymity in transactions seems like a great price to pay, but there needs to be a middle ground on the issue, and criminals must not use cryptocurrencies for their deeds.