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Definition

cyberheist

A cyberheist is a large scale monetary theft conducted through computer hacking, the online equivalent of the real-world bank heist.

 Cybercriminals often target one organization and steal a large amount in a short period of time -- much like the classic bank heist in which a criminal or criminals demand on-hand cash or break into a safe. In a cyberheist, large known accounts or institutions are often the focus; at other times the target may be many customer accounts that collectively contain a large sum of money.

Online banking accounts are often the targets of cyberheists. The accounts may be found through hacking or phishing campaigns and cashed out in a single operation. The theft may involve a specific bank’s customers or a single large account.

Credit cards, debit cards and bank accounts are also targets in cyberheists. Cybercriminals might steal track 2 data credit card or debit card data and use card embossers and magnetic strip encoders to create card clones. Point-of-sale malware is often used to acquire massive numbers of cards. In either case, the cybercriminals might use cloned credit cards for cashing out at ATMs or sell them on underground online sites.

In December 2012, for example, cybercriminals stole $45 million from two Middle Eastern institutions, the Bank of Muscat and RAKBANK. Withdrawals where made from 27 different countries through over 36,000 transactions. Forty million was stolen within 10 hours from Bank of Muscat, the larger of the two.  In May 2013 seven members of the New York cell of the group were arrested, with an eighth having been murdered in the Dominican Republic.

Crimeware kits used for cyberheists include Zeus, SpyEye and the Butterfly Bot.

This was last updated in January 2015

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