Economic warfare via economic espionage is exactly what this is, without a doubt. As the article states, these are shots being fired at America and the Western financial system. The goal, a means to an end, is to create a lack of confidence in the system and eventually provide an alternative to the United States-dominated world.
Hackers employed by the Chinese state are making a profit selling access to breached banks to organized crime groups
A group of cybercriminals has breached and mapped the global banking system, and in a series of attacks has so far stolen $81 million from the central bank of Bangladesh. Experts believe the attacks were done using fraudulent messages on a money transfer network connected to the banking system.
Investigations into the ongoing attacks are still underway, and related attacks on other banks are still being uncovered. Some experts are pinning the attack on hackers from North Korea, since the tools they used share similarities to the November 2014 hack of Sony Pictures Entertainment.
According to an insider with direct knowledge of the recent attacks, however, the culprit behind the digital bank robberies is much larger. The insider requested to remain anonymous due to security concerns, and was able to provide evidence to support his claims.
Chinese state hackers identified the initial vulnerability, and used it to infiltrate and infect the global financial system, according to the insider. When their contract ended with the Chinese regime last year, they sold the vulnerability to cybercrime groups on a private marketplace in the darknet in an attempt to thwart detection, he said. The darknet is an alternate internet that is only accessible using specialized software. While the darknet has legitimate uses, criminal groups buy, sell, and conspire on darknet forums.
The Chinese regime runs a large network of hackers under the General Staff Department, Third Department, of its military. These hackers carry out orders from the Chinese regime, and also often run additional operations or sell data on the side for personal financial gain. Epoch Times exposed this system in a previous investigative series.
The cybercrime groups who purchased the vulnerability are allegedly those carrying out the current attacks and illegal money transfers.
“The Chinese have already gained permanent access to the target financial networks and exfiltrated all the data they wanted for the contract for their sponsor,” the insider said. “Now they have this vulnerability, they can continue to monetize, so now they’re selling it to criminal networks.”
Process of the Breach
The insider was able to provide forensic data and screenshots that support the claims. The insider was also able to provide a list of targeted banks, which he noted is growing, and which includes a long list of banks and financial systems that are connected to a compromised banking partner network—including several in the United States, Latin America, and Asia.
The Chinese state hackers started their attacks on the bank networks as early as 2006, according to the insider, and began uploading malware to the bank networks in 2013.
He said the Chinese hackers also breached a money transfer network run by a Mexico-owned bank based in New Jersey.
“Basically, Mexico’s critical infrastructure is owned by the same APT group,” he said, using APT (advanced persistent threat) to refer to the Chinese state hackers. “They’re in everything down there,” the insider said, referring to the level of access the Chinese state hackers have gained over critical networks in Mexico.
The insider speculated that the Chinese state hackers are selling the original vulnerability both for profit, and to use the cybercriminal gang as a deliberate distraction from their higher-level breaches. He went on to state this could be the early stages of a global banking crisis.
Full article: EXCLUSIVE: Global Banking System Infiltrated by Chinese State Hackers (The Epoch Times)