Cyber heist blocked by Vietnam bank

  • 16/05/2016

Vietnam's Tien Phong Bank says it interrupted an attempted cyber heist that involved the use of fraudulent SWIFT messages, the same technique at the heart of February's massive theft from the Bangladesh central bank.

Hanoi-based TPBank said in a statement late on Sunday in response to inquiries from Reuters that in the fourth quarter of last year it identified suspicious requests through fraudulent SWIFT messages to transfer more than €1 million (NZ$1.68 million) of funds.

TPBank said it caught the attempt quickly enough to halt movement of funds to criminals by immediately contacting involved parties.

The attack "did not cause any losses. It had no impact on the SWIFT system in particular and the transaction system between the bank and customers in general," the bank's statement said.

The bank said the transfers were made using infrastructure of an outside vendor hired to connect it to the SWIFT bank messaging system.

Its statement did not name the service provider, though it said TPBank has discontinued working with that vendor and switched to using a new system that offers a higher level of security and enables it to connect directly with SWIFT.

SWIFT, the backbone of global financial transactions, declined comment on TPBank's claims. On Friday (NZT), it said an unnamed commercial bank was targeted by a malware attack similar to the one at Bangladesh Bank.

TPBank, founded in 2008 by Vietnam's top technology firm FPT Corp, is considered one of Vietnam's most modern and technologically savvy banks.