The World’s Biggest Bank Was Hacked and Causing It to Use a USB Stick for Trade Settlements

The New York branch of the Industrial & Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) was hacked, exposing sensitive information worth an estimated $5.74 trillion.

Bloomberg adds that as a result of the attack, banks, brokerages, and market makers were had to reroute transactions and the ICBC was obliged to settle deals using a USB drive.

The hack also prevented the bank from taking part in a bond auction held by the Treasury on Thursday. Lockbit, a Russian-linked ransomware group, is suspected by investigators.

Bloomberg reports (without citing sources) that banking authorities acknowledge the breach highlighted worries that a system-wide assault might one day grind the conventional financial system to a standstill.

The episode draws attention to a threat that keeps bank executives up at night: the possibility of a cyberattack that may one day disable a crucial piece of the wiring of the financial system, triggering a cascade of problems.

The ICBC has said that it is considering contacting China’s Ministry of State Security for help. Sophos, a security company, has found that there has been an uptick in the amount of ransomware attacks targeting the banking sector over the last several years.

According to the poll conducted in 2023, the frequency of ransomware attacks in the banking sector is on the increase. Compared to the 34% recorded by the industry in 2021, this figure is now 64%, up from 55% in the 2022 report. The sector was hit by more attacks than usual, although not as many as in other sectors.

Sophos claims financial institutions are ramping up their efforts to keep safe. 81% of businesses, including 336 in the financial services industry, said their data is encrypted, up 50% from the previous year, according to the results of a study conducted by the company of 3,000 cybersecurity/IT executives.

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