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Taiwan ATM heist linked to European hacking spree -security firm

Thu 5th January, 2017 4:29am
By Jim Finkle and J.R. Wu 
    BOSTON/TAIPEI, Jan 5 (Reuters) - The group that orchestrated 
the theft of over $2 million from cash machines at Taiwan's 
First Commercial Bank in July was also behind an ATM hacking 
spree in more than a dozen European nations last year, according 
to cyber security firm Group-IB. 
    The methods that the so-called Cobalt group used in Europe 
matched those used in Taiwan, Group-IB said in its latest client 
    Three Eastern European men were arrested in Taiwan in July 
on suspicion of collecting cash stolen from ATMs owned by First 
Commercial Bank, a unit of First Financial Holding Co Ltd 
 2892.TW .*:nL4N1A306U 
    Attorneys for the three defendants in an ongoing trial in 
Taipei told Reuters their clients were not familiar with Cobalt. 
    The men - identified in court documents as Peregudovs 
Andrejs of Latvia, Colibaba Mihail of Romania and Pencov Nicolae 
of Moldova - were among a total of 22 individuals, all foreign 
nationals, that Taiwanese authorities suspect of taking part in 
the theft, where most of the money was subsequently recovered. 
    The suspects used malware dubbed "ATM spitter" in the First 
Commercial Bank attacks, as well as similar hacks in countries 
including Armenia, Belarus, Britain, Bulgaria, Estonia, Georgia, 
Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, the Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Russia 
and Spain, Group-IB said in a report to its customers that 
Reuters reviewed on Thursday. 
    Group-IB first detailed the European spree in a report 
published in November, identifying the hackers as the Cobalt 
    The firm linked Cobalt to the Taiwan heist in its report 
last week. 
    Investigators in Taiwan told Reuters they were not aware of 
any links between Cobalt and the hackers behind the First 
Commercial Bank heist. 
    "What we can say is the people behind this hacking were very 
good," a Taiwanese investigator familiar with the case told 
Reuters, on condition of anonymity because the investigator was 
not authorised to speak with media. 
    The defendants, who maintain their innocence, said in a 
court hearing on Wednesday that they were not members of any 
international crime organization. 
    Taipei prosecutors have said they suspect First Commercial 
Bank's network was breached at a London branch office. 
 (Reporting by Jim Finkle in BOSTON and J.R. Wu in TAIPEI; 
Editing by Christopher Cushing) 
 ((; +886 2 2500 4881; Reuters 
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