SWIFT, the global system that all banks use to transfer money, has suffered a huge slump in profits following a disastrous year in which it has had to deal with cyber-attacks on banks specifically targeting its network.
The company's profit before tax fell by 31 per cent to €47m, after it was forced to invest heavily in IT security, the company admitted in a recently published report.
The company had to invest in security following the $81m theft from Bangladesh Bank in February 2016. Attackers had managed to access parts of the Bank's networks hooked up to the Swift system, which should have been ring-fenced with hardened security.
They were able to obtain user credentials and manipulate PDF reports confirming messages in order to cover up a series of fraudulent payments totalling $951m. The frauds were only uncovered and stopped due to a basic spelling error in one of the transfer requests.
The Bank of England had asked for a review of SWIFT's systems in May last year and, in October, security company Symantec warned that British and global banks were being targeted by in a new wave of attacks on the SWIFT system.
In December, SWIFT revealed that several other attacks on banks had succeeded, with millions being lost in the process - although it did not disclose which banks had fallen victim.
It added that the attackers had shifted their focus from phishing and trying to implement their malware on PCs used by staff in banks' international payments departments, to compromising remote access software used by technical support.
Earlier this year, SWIFT said it was trialling blockchain in a move intended to help it to tighten governance and increase security.
The money transfer service's chairman, Yawar Shah, said in the company's latest financial report that as part of a strategy to beef-up security, it had linked management goals and incentives to security targets.
While the organisation has suffered a huge slump in profits, it could have been worse: Bangladesh Bank decided against suing SWIFT, given its own lackadaisical security that contributed to the attack, and instead said it would seek the organisation's assistance.
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