Citigroup denies it, but its Citibank unit was reportedly robbed of tens of millions of dollars, the victim of a cyberattack by members of a Russian criminal gang, says Tuesday's Wall Steet Journal (subscription required).
The attack was discovered this past summer, says the Journal, but investigators for the FBI and National Security Agency believe it could have happened months or a year prior. The two agencies have reportedly shared information with the Department of Homeland Security and Citigroup to defend against the attack. The investigation is supposedly ongoing, with no word on whether or not any of the stolen money has been found.
Investigators initially became suspicious after spotting traffic coming from IP addresses once used by the Russian Business Network, a Russian gang of cybercriminals who went off the radar back in 2007, notes the Journal. But reports have surfaced that members of the gang have since regrouped to launch a wave of new attacks.
One of the tools allegedly used by the hackers to break into Citibank was Black Energy, says the Journal, a $40 piece of software that launches Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks to prevent access to a specific Web site. Designed by a Russian hacker, Black Energy is commonly sold on certain Russian language forums. But Black Energy is now being sold as part of a $700 kit called the YES Exploit System. The kit includes other crimeware that steals bank account credentials, making it an especially dangerous threat to firms like Citibank.
But Citigroup denies that such an attack ever took place. In a prepared statement e-mailed to CNET, Citigroup said: "Allegations of a breach of Citi systems and associated losses are false. Denial-of-service attacks are directed against companies around the world. While there have been attempts to interfere with the availability of our systems, none of these have resulted in any breaches, compromise of customer information, or losses to Citi."
A company spokesperson further denied any involvement from the FBI. "We had no breach of the system and there were no losses, no customer losses, no bank losses," said Joe Petro, managing director of Citigroup's Security and Investigative services. "Any allegation that the FBI is working a case at Citigroup involving tens of millions of losses is just not true."
Phone calls to the FBI and NSA were not returned.