China bank fraud alert

The Washington Times Weekly - - Geopolitics -

The FBI sent out a warn­ing last week about a new wave of cy­ber­crime em­a­nat­ing from China af­ter com­puter thieves stole $11 mil­lion from U.S. busi­nesses.

“The FBI has ob­served a trend in which cy­ber­crim­i­nals — us­ing the com­pro­mised on­line bank­ing cre­den­tials of U.S. busi­nesses — sent unau­tho­rized wire trans­fers to Chinese eco­nomic and trade com­pa­nies lo­cated near the Rus­sian bor­der,” the no­tice stated.

The alert, dated April 26, was first re­ported by the se­cu­rity web­site Dark Read­ing.

Com­puter se­cu­rity spe­cial­ist Jef­frey Carr said the cy­ber­fraud is “an en­tirely new tac­tic of us­ing Chinese com­pa­nies as an end­point in rip­ping off U.S. busi­nesses.”

“Wire trans­fers di­rectly made to Chinese com­pa­nies by an at­tacker is an un­usu­ally ag­gres­sive tac­tic and prob­a­bly shouldn’t be taken at face value,” he said.

The FBI said that since March 2010 the bu­reau had un­cov­ered 20 cases in­volv­ing the com­pro­mise of on­line bank­ing cre­den­tials of small-to medium-sized U.S. busi­nesses.

The cre­den­tials were used by crim­i­nals for wire trans­fers of money to Chinese com­pa­nies. The com­pa­nies were not iden­ti­fied by name, but most Chinese com­pa­nies are wholly or partly state-owned.

“As of April 2011, the to­tal at­tempted fraud amounts to ap­prox­i­mately $20 mil­lion; the ac­tual vic­tim losses are $11 mil­lion,” the alert stated.

The FBI no­tice is un­usu­ally de­tailed and in­di­cates that Chinese hack­ers, many of whom have been linked to Chinese gov­ern­ment en­ti­ties, are en­gaged in cy­ber­crime, in ad­di­tion to wide­spread in­tel­li­gence gather­ing and theft of data by com­puter.

The Chinese bank fraud was done by ei­ther “phish­ing” — ob­tain­ing con­fi­den­tial pass­words by de­ceit — or through prompt­ing em­ploy­ees of a tar­geted com­pany to visit a ma­li­cious web­site that then in­fects their com­put­ers and takes them over re­motely. In one case, a tar­get com­puter hard drive was erased by hack­ers to stymie in­ves­ti­ga­tors, the FBI said.

The mal­ware col­lected the user’s bank trans­fer data, which then is used to make unau­tho­rized trans­fers of funds to in­ter­me­di­ary banks in New York and, fi­nally, to “the Chinese eco­nomic and trade com­pany bank ac­count.”

“The in­tended re­cip­i­ents of the in­ter­na­tional wire trans­fers are eco­nomic and trade com­pa­nies lo­cated in the Heilongjiang prov­ince in the Peo­ple´s Repub­lic of China,” the no­tice said.

The com­pa­nies ap­pear to be of­fi­cial pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment firms that use of­fi­cial names of Chinese port cities. The cities in­clude Raohe, Fuyuan, Jixi City, Xunke, Tongjiang and Dongn­ing, and the com­pany names in­clude “eco­nomic and trade,” “trade” and “LTD.”

The ma­li­cious soft­ware in­volved Zeus, Back­door.bot and Spy­bot, which se­cretly steal pass­words and bank trans­fer codes.

The FBI warned banks to no­tify cus­tomers about the North­east China bank fraud in the des­ig­nated cities and to closely mon­i­tor fund trans­fers there. The bu­reau said it could not iden­tify the hack­ers and did not know whether the Chinese com­pa­nies were the fi­nal de­posit point for the stolen funds.

Brig. Gen. Roger Teague, the Air Force’s space-based in­frared sys­tems di­rec­tor, said the launch is “the dawn of a new era in per­sis­tent over­head sur­veil­lance.”

The ma­neu­ver­able, $1.2 bil­lion satel­lite is the first of four new high-tech sen­sors. It will con­duct or­bit tests and six en­gine fir­ings be­fore reach­ing geosyn­chronous or­bit 26,199 miles above Earth.

Its mis­sion from launch un­til it is fully op­er­a­tional in Oc­to­ber 2012 will be to watch for mis­sile launches around the world. It also is part of U.S. mis­sile-de­fense sys­tems and will pro­vide what the mil­i­tary calls “tech­ni­cal in­tel­li­gence and battle-space aware­ness” around the world.

“The SBIRS sys­tem will re­main the gold stan­dard for mis­sile warn­ing,” Gen. Teague said in a con­fer­ence call with re- satel­lites.

“We can see much more, much ear­lier, much sooner [. . . ] many dim­mer tar­gets than we ever could be­fore,” he said, de­clin­ing to elab­o­rate be­cause of con­cerns about clas­si­fied in­for­ma­tion.

The new satel­lite also will pro­vide new power for spy­ing on bat­tle­fields and on the tech­ni­cal spec­i­fi­ca­tions of for­eign mis­siles and other heat-pro­duc­ing sys­tems, he said.

“It’s how fast can I process in­for­ma­tion that the sen­sor is de­tect­ing, and how quickly can I dis­sem­i­nate that in­for­ma­tion to bat­tle­field com­man­ders? That’s the real power of this sys­tem and the ca­pa­bil­i­ties that we’ll have,” Gen. Teague said.

Man­u­fac­tured by Bethesda, Md.-based Lock­heed Martin, GEO-1 uses so­phis­ti­cated scan-

LOCK­HEED MARTIN

Al­ways watch­ing: Air Force Brig. Gen. Roger Teague says the May launch of the first GEO-1 Space­Based In­frared Sys­tem satel­lite is “the dawn of a new era in per­sis­tent over­head sur veil­lance.”

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