Security Now
Security is top-of-mind everywhere, especially right here where Juniper experts share their thoughts on the latest security breakthroughs and product advancements
Showing results for 
Search instead for 
Do you mean 

Hackers and nation states stealing from the banks

by Juniper Employee on ‎04-06-2017 01:00 AM


For many years now, criminal gangs have stolen money from banks. It used to appear to be a lot more interesting. It used to be a lot scarier. It used to involve men in striped jumpers rushing into vaults with huge bags marked ‘swag’ and some edge-of-the-seat fast get-aways – using horses, vans, cars and even speed boats. Recently it has seemed to appear as rather dull. Of late, it has become a tale of mysterious, unseen people behind keyboards and screens.


The ‘excitement’ of the past fuelled many pages of fiction, hours of film, and even music about this form of criminal endeavour with stories of criminal plotting, horse and car chases, jealous lovers, double-crossing and often hilarious efforts of law enforcement that kept us entertained over the years.


Until recently, I was not sure that we would ever see that level of excitement being replicated on the silver screen based on the current digital form of bank heists. I mean, when banking trojans first started to appear in 2003 they were really dull. I can’t imagine many novels being written about a piece of code waiting for a customer to visit a bank’s web portal and then essentially pick-pocketing their account. Sure, trojans were a trend copied by cyber criminals all over the world, but the threats were relatively dumb and impact was relatively small. Hardly a thriller.


But maybe I’m wrong? The latest trends we’re witnessing do make the case for reasonable box office success.


In early 2016, there were a number of cases in the public domain that brought attention to the fact that there’s been a lot more going on here than first meets the eye.


In March 2016, the U.S. State Department made the unusual announcement that it had indicted seven hackers associated with the Iranian Government. The alleged crimes included attacking U.S. banks’ public websites from as far back as 2011 and all the defendants were working for two Iran-based computer security companies - ITSec Team and Mersad Co. - on behalf of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, a branch of the Iranian military.


Then June brought the news that Chinese state hackers were suspected of starting attacks on worldwide banking networks as early as 2006 and had begun uploading malware to the bank networks in 2013. China has been alleged to have a large network of hackers under the General Staff Department, Third Department, of its military, and they were accused of carrying out orders from the Chinese regime and of running operations..


Getting racy enough yet to intice you to buy the book? Maybe even visit the movie theatre? Well – we’re just getting started. A good script writer may even throw some sense of how the criminals are spending their gains into the drama of the movie, adding a bit of spice to the story to highlight the lifestyle and the ‘good times’ they are having on their victims behalf.


Well – that’s not hard to find in truth either. One Russian hacker, or ‘2pac’ to his cohorts, was arrested on his $1,470-a-night holiday in the Maldives by US authorities in July 2014. His laptop carried more than 1.7 million credit card numbers, which probably helped pay for his Dodge Challenger SRT, too.


No good crime movie is complete without the role of the shady syndicate boss pulling the strings from the top, and well yes – you guessed it, there’s been real-world evidence of that too – where the alleged leader of a global cybercrime syndicate offered his associates a Ferrari for the cyber criminal who came up with the best scam.


And as a plot twist, what about adding a rival criminal gang? I mean, surely these cyber criminals have so much opportunity that they don’t need to raid other gangs’ territories, right? Again, there has been evidence that in a digital sense, yes, they do – one criminal gang released the RSA private keys that allegedly corresponded to systems that had been infected with another gang’s ransomware application, to the public – rendering the opposing gang’s code useless. And if it is happening in the realm of ransomware, it could also happen in the equally-lucrative realm of bank cybercrime, I believe.


On top of all of this good source material, there is the blurry line between the ongoing activities of malware authors, cyber criminals and ‘State Sponsored’ malicious actors and it isn’t exactly clear who is doing what, on behalf of whom, and for what purpose. Computer code is borrowed, time zones can be changed, variable names and processes can be written in certain styles, fonts and languages – and all done in an effort to ‘hide’ who is ultimately behind the attacks.


As we have seen more recently in the news, there are even techniques that can be used to deliberately obfuscate and leave a footprint behind that identifies someone else other than the hackers as the culprit doing the hacking.


In August 2016, it appeared that a number of various different States were potentially in on the act as well, when a Pro-Pakistan hacking community was accused of carrying out some serious attacks on several Indian Government websites, and also defeated the web security systems of some banks and educational institutions.


Accusations and counter accusations continue, hacker groups in State X against infrastructure in State Y, leads to counter attacks by hacker groups in State Y defacing, exploiting and stealing from institutions in State X.  Are they acting out ambitions of the State? Who knows? In an era of ‘fake news’, nothing seems far-fetched.


So the scene is set for 2017 - more industrialised and targeted attacks against the banking infrastrucure which could become a much more common attack in 2017 for hacker groups, cyber criminals and nation states to fund their activities. Very Spy versus Spy.


One thing’s for sure, if there’s a movie in this, I’ll buy the popcorn.


If you enjoyed reading this blog and would like to read related security blogs please visit here

Juniper Networks Technical Books
About the Author
  • Andrew is a Juniper Distinguished Engineer responsible for the architecture of Juniper's network management user interfaces.
  • Amy James is Product Marketing lead for Security at Juniper Networks. She brings her knowledge of cyber security from companies like FireEye, Cisco and Cloudmark with deep roots in technology storytelling.
  • Asher Langton is a senior software engineer and malware researcher on Juniper's Sky ATP team.
  • Aviram Zrahia is a consulting engineer at Juniper Networks and an industry researcher of cyberspace. He holds a CISSP and GCIH certifications, as well as a bachelor's degree in computer science and MBA in management of technology, innovation, and entrepreneurship. He is also a research fellow in the Blavatnik Interdisciplinary Cyber Research Center (ICRC) at Tel Aviv University, currently focusing on the domain of threat intelligence sharing.
  • Brad Minnis, CPP is the Senior Director of Corporate Environmental, Health, Safety & Security for Juniper Networks, Inc. based in Sunnyvale, CA, where he is responsible for strategic design, implementation and management of the company’s security, safety, environment, crisis management and business continuity functions. He also leads the company’s efforts in corporate citizenship and sustainability, and manages the Corporation’s government-related security programs. Mr. Minnis has over 30 years experience in the Silicon Valley and has managed EHSS operations for a number of high tech companies, including Juniper Networks, 3Com Corporation, and National Semiconductor Corporation. Mr. Minnis’ specialties include security management, supply chain and product integrity, anti-counterfeit, occupational health and safety and crisis management. In his role as Cyber Incident Response Team Leader for Juniper, Mr. Minnis has managed numerous high impact cyber-related incidents and cross-functional responses. Mr. Minnis served for ten years in the United States Navy and has served in leadership positions the International Security Management Association (ISMA) and ASIS International, serving as Chairman of the San Francisco Chapter in 2003. He has also co-written several publications on software integrity assurance and supply chain security with organizations such as SAFECode. Mr. Minnis is certified as a Protection Professional by the Professional Certification Board of ASIS International and attended the University of Connecticut, where he received two certificates in Environmental, Health and Safety
  • Bill is the Director of Federal Certifications and Policy at Juniper Networks. In this role, Bill focuses on several areas unique to the needs of Federal Government customers, including product certifications, IPv6, and security. Bill came to Juniper Networks in January 2008 after more than 20 years in the IT community working with commercial enterprise customers, service providers, and the US Federal Government. Bill started his career as an engineering officer in the US Air Force after graduating with a Bachelor of Aerospace Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology. Bill has an MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.
  • Craig Dods is the Chief Architect for Security within Juniper Networks' Strategic Verticals. He currently maintains multiple top-level industry certifications including his JNCIE-SEC, holds multiple networking and security-related patents, as well as having disclosed multiple critical-level CVE's in a responsible manner. Prior to joining Juniper, Craig served as IBM's Managed Security Services' Chief Security Architect, and held previous security roles at Check Point Software Technologies and Nokia.
  • François Prowse is a Senior Systems Engineer for Juniper Networks, based in Brisbane Australia. Francois joined Juniper in 2006 as part of the New Zealand SE team, subsequently relocating to Australia. Prior to Juniper, Francois worked for four years at Alcatel in both operational and architectural roles, being jointly responsible for the construction of New Zealands' largest MPLS core network. Prior to Alcatel, Francois worked at UUnet, focusing on core network expansion in Europe. In all previous roles JUNOS has been the driving factor behind day to day operations, providing him with over 8 years of operational experience. Francois is a Juniper Networks Certified Internet Expert (JNCIE #144) which he obtained prior to joining Juniper Networks.
  • Greg Sidebottom is a Senior Engineering Manager in the Identity and Policy Management business unit at Juniper Networks. Greg has spent the last decade plus conceptualizing, architecting, designing, and leading the implementation of Juniper's SDX and SRC families of policy based service management applications. Previous to this, Greg held positions in the software and networking industries at Siemens, Cognos, Nortel, GTE labs subsidiary MPR Teltech, and the Alberta Research Council. Greg is an author of eight invention disclosures resulting in two patents issued and three pending. Greg holds a B.Sc. in Computer Science for the University of Calgary and an M.Sc. and Ph.D. in Computing Science from Simon Fraser University.
  • Jennifer Blatnik is vice president of cloud, security and enterprise portfolio marketing at Juniper Networks with focus on enterprise deployments of security, routing, switching, and SDN products, as well as cloud solutions. She has more than 20 years of experience helping enterprises solve network security challenges. Before joining Juniper, Jennifer served multiple roles at Cisco Systems, Inc., including directing product management for security technologies aimed at small to medium enterprises, as well as supporting managed services, cloud service architectures and go-to-market strategies. She holds a B.A. in Computer Science from University of California, Berkeley.
  • Jim Kelly, Senior Product Line Manager – CTP Products Juniper Networks. Jim Kelly is the senior product line manager for the CTP products where he is responsible for the CTP product direction, marketing and circuit emulation applications within Juniper Networks. Mr. Kelly has more than 28 years of experience in the networking industry in technical roles, sales, marketing, and product management positions. He started his career in the United States Air Force. He has worked for Wang, Digital Telecom Systems, American Airlines, Network Equipment Technologies, Carrier Access, and Nortel Networks. He started Juniper Networks federal DoD sales in July 2000 and joined Juniper Networks again in October 2005 through the acquisition of Acorn Packet Solutions where he was the director of sales and marketing.
  • I have been in the networking industry for over 35 years: PBXs, SNA, Muxes, ATM, routers, switches, optical - I've seen it all. Twelve years in the US, over 25 in Europe, at companies like AT&T, IBM, Bay Networks, Nortel Networks and Dimension Data. Since 2007 I have been at Juniper, focusing on solutions and services: solving business problems via products and projects. Our market is characterized by amazing technological innovations, but technology is no use if you cannot get it to work and keep it working. That is why services are so exciting: this is where the technology moves out of the glossy brochures and into the real world! Follow me on Twitter: @JoeAtJuniper For more about me, go to my LinkedIn profile:
  • Kevin Walker is the Security Chief Technology and Strategy Officer for Juniper’s Development and Innovation (JDI) organization. He is responsible for driving the security strategy both internally within Juniper, and externally with investors, partners, influencers, and customers. He provides the guidance required for JDI to conceive, develop and create momentum for industry-leading security solutions. Working closely with the Security Engineering team, Walker identifies the opportunities for improved security, growth, and innovation to deliver the scalable, reliable, and compliant security architecture needed in today’s security landscape. Before joining Juniper, Walker was VP and Assistant Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) at He has served as a Chief Information Security Officer (CISO), Chief Security Strategist and Director of Information Security across a number of notable companies including Intuit, Cisco, Symantec and VERITAS Software. With over twenty-five years in various computer science and information technology disciplines, focusing on enterprise applications, network design, and information security, Walker possesses research and engineering expertise across of range of technologies including networking protocols, securing applications at the atomic level, cryptography, and speech biometrics.
  • Security Life timer, who has been described as a true IT security ‘guru’. It is certainly apt: his knowledge and expertise developed over the course of more than 20 years in IT have helped many customers implement a security strategy that not only safeguards their business and information, but enables Digital Transformation. A noted public speaker on security issues, Lee’s passion and style stand out in the sometimes staid world of network security. Prior to joining Juniper Networks, Lee held a number of business and technical roles at Dr Solomon’s, McAfee, Hewlett Packard, Nokia Siemens Networks and Citrix. Lee leads the Juniper Networks security business across Europe, Middle East and Africa. In this role, Lee is responsible for the company’s commercial development in the field.
  • Laurence is passionate about technology, particularly cyber security. His depth and breadth of knowledge of the dynamic security landscape is a result of over twenty years’ experience in cyber security. He understands the security concerns businesses face today and can bring insight to the challenges they will face tomorrow. Laurence joined Juniper Networks in 2016 and is our senior security specialist in EMEA. Security throughout the network is a key area where Juniper Networks can help as business moves to the cloud and undertakes the challenge of digital transformation.
  • 30 Years in Book Publishing, 20 years in Technical Book Publishing, including Apple Developer Press, Adobe Press, Nokia Developer Books, Palm Books, and since 2001, almost 10 years as consulting editor/editor in chief for Juniper Networks Book. Joined the company and started the Day One book line and in 2011, the new This Week book line.
  • Paul Obsitnik is Vice President of Service Provider Marketing for Juniper Networks Platform Systems Division (PSD), responsible for the marketing of Juniper’s portfolio of high performance routing, switching, and data center fabric products to Service Providers globally. Paul's team is responsible for marketing strategy, product marketing, go-to-market planning, and competitive analysis worldwide for the Service Provider segment. Obsitnik has extensive experience in marketing, sales and business development positions with a proven track record in creating technology markets. He has served in senior marketing and sales management positions at several companies including BridgeWave Communications, ONI Systems, NorthPoint Communications and 3Com. Paul holds a Bachelor of Science with Honors in Electrical Engineering from the United States Naval Academy and a Master of Business Administration from the Harvard Graduate School of Business. Obsitnik is based in Sunnyvale, California.
  • Solutions Marketing Sr Manager
  • Michel Tepper is a Juniper consultant and instructor working for Westcon Security in the Netherlands. He started working in ICT in 1987. Michel is also is a Juniper Ambassador. Currently he holds three Junos Professional certifications and a number of specialist and associate certifications on non-Junos tracks. Michel is an active member of J-Net and, where he uses the nickname screenie referring to the ScreenOS with which he started his Juniper Journey.
  • Scott is the Director of Product Marketing for Mobile Security at Juniper Networks. In his 20+ years in high tech, Scott has worked on Mobile and Endpoint Security, Network Security, IPS, Managed Services, Network Infrastructure, Co-location, Microprocessor Architecture, Unix Servers and Network Adapters. He has held leadership roles at Check Point, McAfee, Symantec, Exodus Communications, Cable & Wireless, Savvis, and HP.
  • Sherry Ryan is IT Vice President and CISO of Juniper Networks. Previously, Sherry held similar positions at Blue Shield of California, Hewlett-Packard, Safeway and Levi Strauss where she established and led their information security programs. Sherry holds the Certified Information Security Manager (CISM) certification from ISACA and the Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) certification from ISC2. She is a member of the High Tech Crime Investigation Association (HTCIA) and the Information Systems Security Association (ISSA). Sherry has a bachelor's degree in Business Administration from the University of Redlands, and earned her MBA from the College of Notre Dame.
About Security Now

Discussing a wide range of topics impacting enterprises and
data center security.

Subscribe RSS Icon

Our Bloggers

Kevin Walker
Vice President
Security CTSO, Engineering

Profile | Subscribe

Ritesh Agrawal
Software Engineering

Profile | Subscribe

Scott Emo
Product Marketing

Profile | Subscribe

Bill Shelton
Director Field Sales

Profile | Subscribe