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Met Police cyber unit arrest gang behind £1.3m hit on Barclays computer system

20 Sep 2013

The Metropolitan Police's Central e-Crime Unit (PCeU) has arrested eight men for suspected involvement in a £1.3m cyber raid on a branch of Barclays bank.

The Met said the eight men between the age of 24 and 47 were arrested on 19 and 20 September. The men are confirmed to have come from addresses in Westminster, Newham, Camden, Brent and Essex.

The men are believed to have been involved in other criminal activities, and the police confirmed seizing cash, jewellery, drugs, thousands of credit cards and personal data from the addresses.

The attack targeted the Swiss Cottage branch of Barclays in April 2013. The criminals infiltrated the branch pretending to be IT engineers. While in the branch the fake engineer attached a keyboard, video and mouse (KVM) switch to a computer connected to the branch's network. The attackers then used the connection to remotely access the network and transfer money to predetermined bank accounts under the control of the criminal group.

Barclays reported a loss of £1.3m to the police, but the bank's managing director of fraud prevention, Alex Grant, moved to downplay the significance of the theft, confirming that the bank was able to recover most of the stolen money. "Barclays has no higher priority than the protection and security of our customers against the actions of would-be fraudsters," he said.

"We have been working closely with the Metropolitan Police following a security breach at our Swiss Cottage branch in April 2013. We identified the fraud and acted swiftly to recover funds on the same day. We can confirm that no customers suffered financial loss as a result of this action."

PCeU detective inspector Mark Raymond listed the arrests as a key victory in the department's ongoing war on cybercrime. "These arrests were achieved working in partnership with the Virtual Task Force (VTF), a unique information-sharing cyber collaboration between the PCeU and the UK banking sector," he said.

"Those responsible for this offence are significant players within a sophisticated and determined Organised Criminal Network, who used considerable technical abilities and traditional criminal know-how to infiltrate and exploit secure banking systems."

Barclays is one of many banks to be targeted by cyber criminals. The Metropolitan Police charged four men and arrested another eight between the ages of 23 and 50 for conspiring to hack a Santander bank branch in London last week. The men reportedly planned to use the same KVM strategy as the Barclays group to hack the Santander Surrey Quays branch.

Combating cybercrime has been a central goal of UK law enforcement this year. PCeU head Charlie McMurdie said, while arrests such as this are a positive, the department cannot win the war on its own, arguing that businesses must work more closely with the police to help fight off growing numbers of cyber attacks targeting their systems and data during a speech at Infosec.

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Alastair Stevenson

Alastair has worked as a reporter covering security and mobile issues at V3 since March 2012. Before entering the field of journalism Alastair had worked in numerous industries as both a freelance copy writer and artist.

View Alastair's Google+ profile

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