Russia’s top 3 banks were target of world’s largest DDoS attack

The logo of VTB Group is seen through a window of Imperia Tower on a facade of the Federation Tower at the Moskva-City.

The logo of VTB Group is seen through a window of Imperia Tower on a facade of the Federation Tower at the Moskva-City.

Russia's three largest Russian banks – VTB, Sberbank and Bank of Moscow – came under a massive DDoS-attack in the fall of 2015, a top manager at VTB has said. Claiming the attackers demanded a bitcoin payment for stopping the attack.

A senior official from one of Russia’s largest banks has revealed that the lender became the target of the most extensive DDoS-attack in the entire history of monitoring in the fall of 2015.

"A certain group of perpetrators" carried out a series of "the strongest DDoS-attacks" against Sberbank, VTB and Bank of Moscow for several days, Dmitry Nazipov, senior vice president of VTB, told the Russian media on June 1.

According to him, the bank received a "fairly typical letter" in English at that time demanding a bitcoin payment in return for stopping the attacks.

"Obviously, we did not agree to pay, but that attack was generally localized in three days, and was not repeated on such a scale thereafter," said Nazarov.

He pointed out that to solve the problem, VTB collaborated with police, telecom service providers and the Central Bank's information security center, FinCert.

In September 2015, the deputy head of the Central Bank's main security and information protection directorate, Artyom Sychev, said that the websites of five major Russian banks had been subjected to a DDoS-attack. He did not disclose the names of the banks.

Sychev said that after the end of the attacks, some of the banks attacked received letters from extortionists who demanded that 50 bitcoins (the average value of a bitcoin was around $230 in September 2015 – RBTH) be transferred to them for not repeating such attacks. He noted that the banks did not suffer damage as a result of the attack.

Earlier on June 1, the Federal Security Service and the Interior Ministry reported the detention of 50 suspects in a theft of 1.7 billion rubles ($25 million) from financial institutions. The police also said that they could prevent 2.2 billion rubles’ ($32.5 million) worth of possible damage.

The law enforcement agencies turned to security software producer Kaspersky Lab for help in identifying the suspects. According to the company, the hackers stole 3 billion rubles ($44.5 million).

Six Russian banks, including Metallinvestbank, the Russian International Bank, Metropol and Regnum, were victims of the hackers. 

First published in Russian in RBK.

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