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Hackers Release documents and files Indicating US National Security Agency (NSA) Monitored Global Bank Transfers
April 15, 2017: Hackers released documents and files Friday that cybersecurity experts said indicated the U.S. National Security Agency had accessed the SWIFT interbank messaging system, allowing it to monitor money flows among some Middle Eastern and Latin American banks.
The release included computer code that could be adapted by criminals to break into SWIFT servers and monitor messaging activity, said Shane Shook, a cyber security consultant who has helped banks investigate breaches of their SWIFT systems.
The documents and files were released by a group calling themselves The Shadow Brokers. Some of the records bear NSA seals, but Reuters could not confirm their authenticity.
The NSA could not immediately be reached for comment.
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Holes in Windows
Also published were many programs for attacking various versions of the Windows operating system, at least some of which still work, researchers said.
In a statement to Reuters, Microsoft, maker of Windows, said it had not been warned by any part of the U.S. government that such files existed or had been stolen.
“Other than reporters, no individual or organization has contacted us in relation to the materials released by Shadow Brokers,” the company said.
The absence of warning is significant because the NSA knew for months about the Shadow Brokers breach, officials previously told Reuters. Under a White House process established by former President Barack Obama’s staff, companies were usually warned about dangerous flaws.
Shook said criminal hackers could use the information released Friday to hack into banks and steal money in operations mimicking a heist last year of $81 million from the Bangladesh central bank.
“The release of these capabilities could enable fraud like we saw at Bangladesh Bank,” Shook said.
The SWIFT messaging system is used by banks to transfer trillions of dollars each day. Belgium-based SWIFT downplayed the risk of attacks employing the code released by hackers Friday.
SWIFT said it regularly releases security updates and instructs client banks on how to handle known threats.
“We mandate that all customers apply the security updates within specified times,” SWIFT said in a statement.
SWIFT said it had no evidence that the main SWIFT network had ever been accessed without authorization.
It was possible that the local messaging systems of some SWIFT client banks had been breached, SWIFT said in a statement, which did not specifically mention the NSA.
When cyberthieves robbed the Bangladesh Bank last year, they compromised that bank’s local SWIFT network to order money transfers from its account at the New York Federal Reserve.
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NSA and SWIFT
The documents released by the Shadow Brokers on Friday indicate that the NSA may have accessed the SWIFT network through service bureaus. SWIFT service bureaus are companies that provide an access point to the SWIFT system for the network’s smaller clients and may send or receive messages regarding money transfers on their behalf.
“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 United Arab Emirates-based cybersecurity firm Comae Technologies, who has studied the Shadow Broker releases and believes the group has access to NSA files.
The documents posted by the Shadow Brokers include Excel files listing computers on a service bureau network, user names, passwords and other data, Suiche said.
“That’s information you can only get if you compromise the system,” he said.
Cris Thomas, a prominent security researcher with the cybersecurity firm Tenable, said the documents and files released by the Shadow Brokers show “the NSA has been able to compromise SWIFT banking systems, presumably as a way to monitor, if not disrupt, financial transactions to terrorists groups.”
Since the early 1990s, interrupting the flow of money from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and elsewhere to al-Qaida, the Taliban, and other militant Islamic groups in Afghanistan, Pakistan and other countries has been a major objective of U.S. and allied intelligence agencies.
Mustafa Al-Bassam, a computer science researcher at University College London, said on Twitter that the Shadow Brokers documents show that the “NSA hacked a bunch of banks, oil and investment companies in Palestine, UAE, Kuwait, Qatar, Yemen, more.”
He added that NSA “completely hacked” EastNets, one of two SWIFT service bureaus named in the documents that were released by the Shadow Brokers.
Reuters could not independently confirm that EastNets had been hacked. And EastNets, based in Dubai, denied it had been hacked in a statement, calling the assertion “totally false and unfounded.”
EastNets ran a “complete check of its servers and found no hacker compromise or any vulnerabilities,” according to a statement from EastNets’ chief executive and founder, Hazem Mulhim.
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In 2013, documents released by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden said the NSA had been able to monitor SWIFT messages.
The agency monitored the system to spot payments intended to finance crimes, according to the documents released by Snowden.
Reuters could not confirm whether the documents released Friday by the Shadow Brokers, if authentic, were related to NSA monitoring of SWIFT transfers since 2013.
Some of the documents released by the Shadow Brokers were dated 2013, but others were not dated. The documents released by the hackers did not clearly indicate whether the NSA had actually used all the techniques cited for monitoring SWIFT messages.
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By- Joseph Collins
An energy meter, also known as a Watt-Hour Meter, is a device that monitors the level of electrical energy or gas consumed by users. Utilities are among the agencies that place these devices in various locations such as houses, businesses, organizations, and commercial properties to charge for the power consumed. You can always know how much is gas or electric cheaper by contacting a utility company.
Electronic Energy Meters
When compared to traditional mechanical meters, these types of measuring equipment are more accurate, have a faster processing time, and are more trustworthy. When attached to a source, it uses less power and begins measuring immediately.
Analog or digital meters are both possible. Analog meters transform energy to proportionate frequency or pulse rate, which is then combined by counters inside the device. A high-end processor directly calculates power in a digital electric meter.
Logic circuits combine the power to obtain the energy as well as for testing and certification purposes. The frequency or pulse rate is then calculated.
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Smart Energy Meters
It is a cutting-edge metering technique that entails installing intelligent meters that read, process, and relay information to clients. It monitors energy usage, changes the supply to consumers remotely, and digitally manages the maximum energy usage.
For greater performance, smart metering systems make use of modern metering infrastructure system technology. These meters limit the number of times you have to go to the place to get your monthly reading.
In these smart meters, modems are utilized to enable communication technologies like phone, wireless, fiber cable, and power line communications. Another benefit of smart metering is that it eliminates the possibility of tampering with energy meters, which could lead to unlawful power usage.
An energy meter, also known as a Watt-Hour Meter, is a device that monitors the level of electrical energy or gas consumed by users. | Wikimedia
Working of The Meter
The conventional electric meter looks like a clock and keeps track of how much electricity you consume. A series of microscopic gears inside the meter moves as your home takes electricity from the power wires. The numbers on your meter that you notice when you look at it indicate the number of revolutions.
The quantity of electricity utilized determines the speed at which the rotations occur. The velocity of moving gas in the pipeline is measured by a gas meter. As the gas flow rate increases, the dials speed up.
ALSO READ: Electric Cars: The Newest Trend In India
How Often is Meter Read?
Unless the meter is a consumer-ready meter, the government will demand utility companies read user meters quarterly. If the consumer checks the meter, the utility is asked to read it at least once a year. Almost every month, many utilities try and read their customers' meters.
If the meter isn't read, the utility might issue an estimated charge based on the previous usage. Keep bushes and plants away from the meter and allow access to the meter reader if your meter is within your home. All utilities demand their meter readers to have an employment ID as a security measure.
Smart meters limit the number of times you have to go to the place to get your monthly reading. | Wikimedia
Responsibility of Meter
The utility provider is in charge of meter installation as well as the gas and electric lines that go up to the meter. The wires from the meter to the customer's premises are his responsibility.Please call your gas or electric utility if your meter is broken or displays evidence of tampering. Manipulation with a meter is prohibited and may result in service termination, legal punishment, or both.
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A hilarious rhyme that children often chant cheerily while jumping around, Jack and Jill is another example of the dark history covered up in light-hearted rhyme. Instead of England though, this is a rhyme that sheds light on the history of France.
Unlike other rhymes, the rhyme is part fiction and part history, since only the first two lines can be taken as an allusion to the past.
"Jack and Jill went up the hill to fetch a pail of water,
Jack fell down and broke his crown,
And Jill came tumbling after."
King Louis XIV ruled over France in the late 18th century and was called out for treason. He had failed to uphold the economy of France. His spouse Marie Antoinette was an equally powerful influence in the monarchy but could not do anything when her husband was convicted.
King Louis XIV of France Image source: wikimedia commons
The French are famous for the guillotine, and Louis XIV was beheaded on this device. This act of executing a monarch is why the rhyme has the line "Jack fell down and broke his crown". The guillotine, at this point in history, was kept outside the city, and the journey to it was long and tedious. It was ideally located on a hill, so that the entire city of Paris could witness the execution of the accused.
Louise XIV is believed to have been dressed and taken on the long journey up to the guillotine, where his hair was cut off and he had to renounce his authority. He bid farewell to his friends and was followed up the hill by a crowd holding pikes and bayonets, to prevent his escape. He was then executed as the last monarch of France.
Death by guillotine was the most terrifying way to execute a criminal Image source: wikimedia commons
A few months later, when the hue and cry of Louis XIV's death has died down a little, but the political situation of France was no better, his wife, Marie Antoinette was also executed at the guillotine for her role in the fall of France. And this event alludes to the line, "Jill came tumbling after".
The rest of the rhyme is a fictional account of a moralistic idea for children, as a way to tell them to be careful of where they engage in play. Since a large part of the rhyme seems like a story of two children who have had an accident in play, that is how the rhyme has survived and the history behind it, has been forgotten.
Keywords: Marie Antoinette, Louise XIV, Guillotine, France, Nursery Rhymes, Monarchy