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>> Officials at the New York Federal Reserve, holder of trillions of the world's cash reserves, always feared a digital bank heist could happen but didn't do much to guard against one. Then, cyber criminals stole $81 million from the Bangladeshi's Central Bank's account at the New York Fed in February.
Reuters Fed watcher, Johnathan Spicer, has learned through conversations with several former and current Fed officials that chances of such a theft were deemed extremely low. And little was done about it, in part, because of more pressing concerns over protecting against money laundering and defending the Federal Reserve's own vast infrastructure.
>> They knew through their contacts and their deep familiarity with these central banks around the world, that there might have been some weaknesses. Some sub-par compliance at these central banks that might have allowed cyber criminals to get in there and send fraudulent messages on the ubiquitous SWIFT messaging platform.
>> The so-called SWIFT, Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications System, is the way the world's essential banks and commercial banks privately talk to one another to keep money flowing around the globe.>> There was just such a deep trust for this SWIFT messaging network. This thing has been in existence for decades and it had such a deep and almost blind faith within the financial community, including among central banks, that it was safe, that it would work, that criminals couldn't get in there.
>> But they did get in, after gaining access from the Bangladeshi Central Bank, and sent what appeared to be authenticated payment requests to the New York Fed. Now, on top of being vigilant against other forms of cybercrime, the New York Fed has another priority, coming up with a better way to spot false requests for cash like the ones behind the biggest cyberheist in history.