$39 million cyber heist crooks caught by Omani agency

Omani forensic specialists helped track down online crooks who stole $39 million from a government bank, the director of the Internet Technology Agency has revealed.

A cyber attack on an Oman bank in 2013 sparked a global manhunt across 24 nations that led to the arrests of seven people in the USA, according to Dr Badr Al Manthari, director of the ITA.

Omani forensic specialists from the Internet Technology Agency worked with global counterparts to track down the scamsters, Al Manthari said, in an exclusive interview with TimesTV.

“Twelve pre-paid credit cards were compromised, the hackers managed to alter the withdrawal limits on the credit cards. And within a matter of a few hours, they managed to conduct more than 36,000 transactions and they managed to steal $39m from that particular bank and another bank in the Gulf. That was in 2013.

“At least seven have been caught in the US. It was an organised crime with many people involved from at least 24 countries. Cross-border cybercrimes are the most difficult to tackle. There is a legal framework. We are trying to tackle it through many means. One of them is international cooperation, where we are working very closely with our neighbours and other countries in the world to share experiences and information and even report incidents and also receive incidents. If they discover anything, they report it to us. So we are playing an active role there”, he said.

In the wake of that 2013 attack, banks have been cooperating with the authorities to ensure their security systems are up to date and protocols are now much tighter, he added.

“Nobody can say that any system can be hack-proof,” he revealed. “Our intention in Oman is to prevent cybercrimes as much as possible and also to be able to detect any cyber incidents or cyber crimes when they happen and be able to respond to them or recover from them as fast as possible”. He added, “I am aware that banks are working very closely with the regulator, Central Bank of Oman, to improve cyber security and they have taken very good measures to protect customer data”.

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Source: Times of Oman