Singapore banks’ group invites SWIFT to discuss cyber attacks

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The Association of Banks in Singapore (ABS) has invited SWIFT for a meeting in June to discuss the latest cyber attacks on banks in Bangladesh and Vietnam which involved SWIFT’s financial messaging service.

The move comes as members of ABS, which include Singaporean and foreign banks, have individually engaged the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) since news of the attacks emerged, it said.

“ABS, for its part, has invited SWIFT to a meeting in early June to share its experience in managing the incidents in Bangladesh and Vietnam,” it said an email to Reuters.

Earlier this week Singapore’s central bank said it had asked banks to maintain a high level of security for their critical IT systems following recent cyber attacks involving the SWIFT financial messaging system.

Other central banks such as Bank of England are also urging banks to increase cyber security.

Representatives of SWIFT could not be immediately reached for comment.

The FBI, authorities in Dhaka and private forensic experts are investigating the February cyber heist in Bangladesh where thieves raided a central bank account kept at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, stealing $81 million.

They installed malware at Bangladesh Bank’s Dhaka headquarters that hid traces of their attack to delay discovery so they could access the funds, according to police and private security firms.

The theft was followed by attacks on other lenders in the region, with Vietnam’s Tien Phong Bank saying earlier this week it had interrupted an attempted cyber heist that involved the use of fraudulent SWIFT messages.

(Reporting by Saeed Azhar; Editing by Christopher Cushing)