Turkey's Akbank says targeted by hackers, faces up to $4 million liability

Reuters News
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Posted: Dec 16, 2016 2:13 AM

ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Hackers targeted Turkish lender Akbank in a cyber attack on the SWIFT global payment system, the bank said, adding it faced a liability of up to $4 million from the incident but no customer information was compromised.

It was not immediately clear how much, if any, money had been stolen. The bank did not immediately respond to a Reuters request to clarify whether any funds had been stolen.

Banks are facing an escalating threat to their systems as hackers have become more sophisticated, Reuters reported this week. Attacks targeting the global transfer system have succeeded in stealing funds since February's heist of $81 million from the Bangladesh central bank.

In an emailed statement, Akbank said it had been targeted in a SWIFT attack on Dec. 8.

It said it had immediately taken preventive measures and informed authorities and its systems were working properly. There was no security breach or loss affecting its customers, it said.

"This has no impact on Akbank's operations or financials. The maximum risk Akbank would face is $4 million," it said, adding that any potential losses would be covered by insurance.

In February, hackers used stolen Bangladesh Bank credentials to send SWIFT messages requesting the transfer of nearly $1 billion from its correspondent account at the New York Federal Reserve. The hackers succeeded in transferring $81 million to four accounts in Manila.

The global SWIFT messaging network handles trillions of dollars in fund transfer daily.

Shares of Akbank, Turkey's third-largest listed bank by assets, were down 1 percent at 7.89 lira at 0910 GMT, compared with 0.6 percent decline in the Istanbul stock exchange's index of bank stocks.

(Reporting by Can Sezer and Birsen Altayli; Writing by David Dolan; Editing by Nick Tattersall and Susan Thomas)