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How a Single Hacker Stole $100 Million From Two Major Tech Companies

An unfortunate fact about the modern business world is that any organization that utilizes technology is playing with fire. Cyber attacks can circumvent even the most well-protected networks through the company’s users. This is, unfortunately, something that business owners often don’t learn until they’re on the receiving end of an attack; just like the two companies that fell victim to phishing attempts that were supposedly operated by Evaldas Rimasauskas, a Lithuanian hacker who has been accused of stealing $100 million from them.

According to acting United States Attorney Joon H. Kim, “This case should serve as a wake-up call to all companies--even the most sophisticated--that they too can be victims of phishing attacks by cyber criminals.” These words apply to the business world for one major reason: the public doesn’t know who, specifically, the two affected companies are. All that we know is that one of them is a “multinational online social media company” and the other a “multinational technology company.”

Rimasauskas is facing charges of orchestrating a phishing attack that was supposed to convince the victims to wire transfer funds into accounts in Latvia and Cyprus. The U.S. Department of Justice explains that this feat was accomplished by building a company in Latvia with the same name as a computer manufacturer in Asia. The fake company then used its new identity to reach out to companies that had a known relationship with the Asian manufacturer or its services, claiming that there were balances that had yet to be paid. Following the wire transfer, Rimasauskas would then divvy up the funds for transfer to various global bank accounts.

These allegations have brought wire fraud charges against Rimasauskas that could potentially land him in prison for up to 20 years, as well as three more counts of money laundering, each also worth a maximum of 20 years each. To top it all off, he has a single count of aggravated identity theft with a minimum of two years in prison.

So, what can your business learn from this incident? Well, the first is that these victims were described as “multinational,” meaning that they are large countries that are easily recognizable. Companies as large as these certainly have the means to protect themselves from the odd phishing scammer, but the perpetrator was able to bypass these security standards by targeting the users directly.

The old adage, a chain is only as strong as its weakest link, still holds strong; and, in situations like these, that link is painfully clear. For smaller organizations, the need is only more important, as it becomes more critical to shore up this particular weakness. Larger organizations have more difficulty ensuring these high standards for all employees. It’s important that each and every member of your staff understand company security policies.

The second lesson that you can learn from this event comes from the process used by hackers to defraud businesses. Considering that many hackers will only want to put in the minimum amount of effort to hit their targets, it’s logical to assume they would rather go after an easier target than invest more effort with no possibility for a return. It’s simply a matter of how much work it is to get around enterprise-level security.

What happens when all it takes to collect data is writing a couple of emails and setting up bank accounts? A hacker can then communicate with the target and take whatever they can get, and do the same thing to any other companies foolish enough to fall for the trick.

The biggest takeaway from this event is that you can’t ignore the basics. Training, in combination with powerful enterprise-level security, can be a great way to ward off potential attacks. In fact, companies are quite rarely breached due to advanced threats, and are often brought down due to something small that was overlooked, like a spam email or access log discrepancy.

You won’t catch Symmetric Engineering Group ignoring important details that could threaten your business. For more information about what we can do for your network’s security, reach out to us at (813) 749-0895.



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