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Dubai financial services bureau EastNets denies claims of hacking

Hacking group Shadow Brokers released a series of documents on Friday suggesting that the NSA had hacked into EastNets, which acts as a service bureau for the global Swift transaction system for financial institutions in the Middle East.

Dubai-based financial ser­vices bureau EastNets has denied claims that its network had been hacked by the US National Security Agency, enabling the agency to monitor transactions made by some Middle Eastern institutions and companies.

Hacking group Shadow Brokers released a series of documents on Friday suggesting that the NSA had hacked into EastNets, which acts as a service bureau for the global Swift transaction system for financial institutions in the Middle East.

Swift is a global network that enables banks and other fin­ancial institutions to share transaction details in a standardised, secure environment, used by banks to transfer trillions of dollars every day.

EastNets is one of 74 local service bureaus worldwide certified by Swift, acting as an interface between the international network and smaller banks and financial institutions in the Middle East.

The Shadow Brokers documents, whose authenticity has not been verified by The National, suggest that the NSA has used access to EastNets systems to monitor Middle Eastern customers’ financial transactions.

EastNets yesterday described the reports as “totally false and unfounded,” and said that an internal check of its servers had not uncovered any compromise or vulnerability.

“While we cannot ascertain the information that has been published, we can confirm that no EastNets customer data has been compromised in any way,” said the EastNets founder and chief executive Hazem Mulhim in a statement sent to The National.

“EastNets continues to guarantee the complete safety and security of its customers’ data with the highest levels of protection from its Swift-certified service bureau.”

Swift said that it had no evidence that its main network had ever been accessed without authorisation, Reuters reported on Friday.

But the organisation said that the local messaging systems of some Swift client banks had been breached.

Cyberthieves stole US$81 million from Bangladesh’s central bank last May after a bank official’s computer was hacked, enabling the thieves to order money transfers from the bank’s account at the New York Federal Reserve.

“If you hack the service bur­eau, it means that you also have access to all of their clients, all of the banks,” said Matt Suiche, founder of the UAE-based cybersecurity firm Comae Technologies, who has studied the Shadow Broker releases and believes the group has access to NSA files, Reuters reported.

The documents posted by the Shadow Brokers include Excel files listing computers on a service bureau network, usernames, passwords and other data, Mr Suiche said.

jeverington@thenational.ae

* with agencies

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Updated: April 15, 2017 04:00 AM

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