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World's Largest Bank Hit by Hackers, Forces Shift to USBs for Trades

Updated: Feb 29

A prominent hacking group, identified as Lockbit, is believed to be behind a ransomware attack targeting the U.S. branch of ICBC, the world's largest lender by assets, as per sources familiar with the matter who preferred to remain anonymous due to the sensitive nature of the information. The cyberattack has led to widespread disruptions in the U.S. Treasury market, causing certain transactions to fail in their clearance processes. Consequently, traders have been instructed to redirect their deals to navigate the impact of the incident.

Bank Hackers

The U.S. branch of the Industrial & Commercial Bank of China Ltd. experienced a cyberattack that disrupted its ability to process a significant volume of U.S. Treasury trades. The systems responsible for settling these transactions disconnected promptly, compelling ICBC to transmit the necessary settlement information to involved parties using a messenger who delivered the details via a thumb drive. In response, the state-owned bank acted swiftly to contain and mitigate the consequences of the incident.


Engineers are currently probing the methods employed by hackers to breach the New York branch of the Industrial & Commercial Bank of China (ICBC), a financial institution boasting $5.74 trillion in total assets.


As a consequence of the hack, ICBC resorted to settling trades via a USB stick, prompting banks, brokerages, and market makers to redirect their trade routes, according to Bloomberg reports.


The incident also hindered the bank's participation in the Treasury's bond auction on Thursday.


Investigators suspect that the cybercriminal group Lockbit, known to have connections to Russia, is responsible for the attack.


In a survey conducted by the company among 3,000 cybersecurity and IT leaders, including 336 from the financial services sector, it was revealed that 81% of organizations claim to have encrypted their data. This marks a significant increase of 50% compared to the preceding year.


Photo by Jason Dent on Unsplash

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