ATM Malware: Hackers Steal 12.29 million Baht ($350,000) from Thai Banks

Hackers who stole $350,000 from Bangkok’s Government Savings Bank ATMs have Fled the Country

A couple of months ago cyber criminals stole 1.44 billion Yen ($13 million) from 1,400 ATMs in 2½ hours in Japan and fled the country. Now, Bangkok has received another row of hack attacks. In the latest hacking spree, hackers have managed to steal 12.29 million Baht ($350,000). Reportedly, this whopping amount was stolen from the Government Savings Banks.

Reports suggest that around 21 ATMs of the bank were attacked and this resulted in the theft of such an enormous amount of money. The ATMs were situated in the southern provinces of Thailand. The hacking spree was conducted from August 1st onwards.

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The attack involved targeting of single machines and the malware used to compromise the ATM machines was so advanced that it could not be detected for quite some time. During the hacking campaign, hackers gradually withdrew 40,000 Baht (1154 US Dollar) every time. The ATMs targeted were located in Phuket, Surat Thani, Petchaburi, Chumporn and Prachuab Khirj Khan in Thailand. The other five were located in Bangkok’s Vibhavadi Rangsit and Sukhumvit areas.

After learning about the hack attack and the thefts, the bank suspended its ATM service for an indefinite period of time. It must be noted that the bank has over 4000 ATMs in Bangkok, which are manufactured by a company based in Scotland. Furthermore, 16 other machines apart from the previously detected 21 ATMs were identified to be infected with the same malware.

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Microsoft’s representative told Thailand-Business that Thailand is counted in those top 25 countries that frequently receive malware attacks. In fact, Thailand happens to be the main country within the Asia-Pacific region where malware attacks are the highest. Usually, the government’s websites are the favored targets of hackers but banks are quickly surpassing them as the preferred targets of hackers.

According to Government Savings Bank director Mr. Chartchai Payuhanaveechai, the service of the Scottish company ATMs was suspended since 8th August. In an official statement, Mr. Payuhanaveechai clarified that:

“The GSB wants to inform the public and customers about the reason behind the closing of some ATM machines and to prevent more damage to the bank. This theft is not related to customers’ accounts and money.”

Mr. Payuhanaveechai also noted that the GSB has notified the Bank of Thailand about the recent electronic thefts so that banks having ATMs from the same company could be alerted. For your information, in Thailand, there are 10,000 actively operating ATMs out of which 4,000 belong to the GSB.

How would GSB deal with the ATM vendor? Well, what we have learnt so far is that the GSB will be demanding compensation from the Scottish firm.

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As far as the hackers are concerned, Bangkok Post reported that in total five people involved, all hailing from East Europe. According to a senior police official, a few of them have left the country however Police will soon apply for warrants for the arrest of those involved in the ATM thefts.

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