Two of Hong Kong’s largest banks were recently targeted by hackers. The digital criminals threatened to launch cyber attacks against the websites belonging to the Bank of China and Bank of East Asia, unless the victims paid a ransom in Bitcoin.
The local authorities confirmed the banks have filed reports with the Hong Kong police, claiming their websites were hacked. The distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks resulted in unstable service.
According to a spokesman, “the two institutions later received e-mails demanding payments in Bitcoins, or there would be another round of attacks.” The hackers are believed to be based overseas and a preliminary investigation launched by the police found out the attackes are likely to have been launched from multiple countries.
The Bank of China confirmed its website was affected by a DDoS on Saturday, May 9th, although information about the case is only now being revealed. The bank assured its customer service had not been affected.
“With our constant monitoring mechanism and contingency measures in place to ensure the security and operation of the company’s website, our services and customer information have not been affected by the incident. The case was reported to the Hong Kong Police,” a representative for Bank of China told Coindesk.
The other victim, the Bank of East Asia, realised it was under attack after noticing an abnormal increase in internet traffic. In the meantime, the financial institution implemented contingency measures to deal with the attacks, denying any security breaches.
The police has classified the case as blackmail. The attacks will be investigated by the Cyber Security and Technology Crime Bureau and analyzed by the Hong Kong Monetary Authority, which asked both banks to submit reports.