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Digital Identity, Security & Online Fraud

South African banks response following news of North Korean cyberattacks

Friday 23 August 2019 | 11:57 AM CET

The Payments Association of South Africa and the South African Banking Risk Information Centre have stated that no security breaches in local SWIFT systems have been reported.

Moreover, some South African banks also confirmed not being hacked by North Korean negative actors, after reports announced that that South Africa was one of 17 countries hit by North Korean attackers to raise money for its weapons of mass destruction programmes, according to My Broadband.

Articles from Reuters and the Associated Press cited an unpublished report prepared for the UN Security Council, which stated that North Korea perpetrated at least 35 attacks and raised up to USD 2 billion. Although no details of the attack on South Africa were provided, the report stated that there were three major ways in which North Korea was raising money: attacks on the SWIFT system, attacks on cryptocurrency exchanges and individual holders, and mining of cryptocurrency.

My Broadband has asked local banking and payments institutions whether they had been attacked. Nedbank said that it is not aware of SWIFT-related systems being compromised.

Investec’s fraud prevention team said that they are not aware of any South African bank experiencing a successful direct attack on their SWIFT infrastructure similar to the Bangladesh SWIFT attack in 2017. FNB and Standard Bank did not respond to requests for comment.

The Payments Association of South Africa (PASA) said that it has not received any reports of South African SWIFT systems being compromised. The South African Banking Risk Information Centre (SABRIC) assured MyBroadband that the allegations that North Korea hacked into SWIFT systems at banks are taken seriously by the banking industry

The Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) did not respond to a request for comment.

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