Aside from the mystery surrounding the patching of these vulnerabilities one month ahead of the exploits, the other major question is how multiple security researchers and news outlets all incorrectly reported the exploits targeted fully updated products that remained supported by Microsoft. That the researchers were running slightly outdated, un-patched versions of Microsoft’s software only became apparent after the company made its late-night announcement.
“There is no impact on SWIFT’s infrastructure or data, however, we understand that communications between these service bureaus and their customers may previously have been accessed by unauthorised third parties”.
Swift was successfully targeted by hackers a year ago when criminals stole $81m from the Bangladeshi central bank.
The SWIFT messaging system is used by banks to transfer trillions of dollars each day. Spreadsheets published by Shadow Brokers appeared to list banks that had been breached with “implants” – secret data-gathering software.
“The reports of an alleged hacker-compromised EastNets Service Bureau (ENSB) network is totally false and unfounded”.
But the organisation said that the local messaging systems of some Swift client banks had been breached.
When cyberthieves robbed the Bangladesh Bank previous year, they compromised that bank’s local SWIFT network to order money transfers from its account at the New York Federal Reserve. SWIFT service bureaus are companies that provide an access point to the SWIFT system for the network’s smaller clients and may send or receive messages regarding money transfers on their behalf.
Hacking group Shadow Brokers released a series of documents on Friday suggesting that the NSA had hacked into EastNets, which acts as a service bureau for the global Swift transaction system for financial institutions in the Middle East.
According to another report in Fortune, the group – believed to be tied to the Russian government – also released a set of confidential hacking tools used by USA intelligence organisation the NSA to exploit software vulnerabilities in Microsoft Windows software. He said he concluded that the NSA took advantage and got in that way.
Since the early 1990s, interrupting the flow of money from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and elsewhere to al Qaeda, the Taliban, and other militant Islamic groups in Afghanistan, Pakistan and other countries has been a major objective of USA and allied intelligence agencies.
When hacking group “Shadow Brokers” started leaking NSA-discovered exploits, many people were understandably anxious.
The BBC is not able to verify the authenticity of the files – and the NSA has not commented on the leak.
Analysts say numerous exploits revealed appear to be three years old or more, but have some unknown vulnerabilities that could still be used by other hackers.
SWIFT told reporters it has not seen unauthorized access on its networks, and EastNets said the same. “The EastNets Network internal Security Unit has run a complete check of its servers and found no hacker compromise or any vulnerabilities”, the bureau said in a statement.
The agency monitored the system to spot payments meant to finance crimes, according to the documents released by Snowden.
Some of the documents released by the Shadow Brokers were dated 2013, but others were not dated.
Several documents showed that the NSA used the Windows hacking tools to target a number of banks, including the SWIFT banking system.