Federal prosecutors are investigating whether or not North Korea was involved in the theft of $81 million from a Bangladesh central bank account at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, Fox News reports.
If charges are filed, they would not be filed against North Korea directly, but instead against Chinese middlemen who assisted the country in the theft.
Cybersecurity experts said whoever was involved used a global banking system known as SWIFT and had the Federal Reserve Bank transfer money to four accounts in the Philippines. According to The New York Times, SWIFT is used by 11,000 banks and companies to transfer money from one country to another.
“If that linkage is true, that means a nation-state is robbing banks. That is a big deal … it’s different,” said Richard Ledgett, the deputy director of the National Security Agency.
Other federal officials said there may not be a link to North Korea and that it could have been hackers tweaking a code from the previous Sony Pictures hack in 2016. Bloomberg reports that the hackers in this case used similar methods to the Sony hack.
There is also speculation that someone within the SWIFT company assisted the hackers in the heist.
If North Korea was involved in the theft, officials are concerned this could be the start of a new cyberwarfare era in which countries and states are vulnerable to theft.
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