The Kyiv branch of the Information Systems Audit and Control Association (ISACA) reported that the theft had occurred via the SWIFT international banking system, the organisation responsible for managing money transfers between financial institutions worldwide.
An unnamed Ukranian bank requested ISACA to investigate the theft at a time when dozens of banks, most in Ukraine and Russia, had been compromised and from which several hundreds of millions of dollars had been stolen.
SWIFT hacks usually take months to complete. They involve breaking into a financial institution’s internal networks, where hackers take time to study the bank’s internal processes and controls until they have the knowledge and access required to start submitting fraudulent money orders to a network of offshore companies to which they siphon off millions of dollars.
ISACA reported that it was most likely that the hackers used publicly available information and tools to commit the theft. ISACA also suggested the same hack had spread to other banks in Ukraine.
Whilst Ukraine’s banking sector has been repeatedly criticised for security failings and poor banking practices, the issue is international and the announcement came after months of controversy around SWIFT security generally. In February 2016 hackers were able to use the SWIFT network and stole more than USD100 million from the Bangladesh Central Bank via their account in the New York Federal Reserve.