Old-fashioned bank robberies complete with a mask and a get-away driver are,well, old-fashioned. Really old-fashioned bank robberies involved at least a six-shooter, a horse, and a wayward cowboy. Today bank robberies happen much more often than you may realize, and oftentimes no one ever sets foot inside the bank being robbed. There are all sorts of new high-tech ways of robbing high tech digital dollars out of what are essentially low-tech banks. Banking security is not what you might think it to be. Please keep reading for some examples.
Banking Security Is Getting Hacked: Japan.
Recently, there was a unique bank heist pulled off in Japan. There were dozens and dozens of people involved, and the plan has worked seamlessly, at least so far. On May 15, 2016, roughly 100 suspects made coordinated withdrawals at 1400 different ATM’s in Tokyo and across sixteen other Japanese prefectures. Each withdrawal was for an amount of 100,000 yen, which is the maximum amount of cash the machine will dispense during a single transaction.
In less than three hours, 1.4 billion yen – which is equivalent to about $12.7 million – was taken from the bank. Normally transactions like this would be business as usual, but this situation is anything but normal. The credit cards that were being used to make the ATM withdrawals were forgeries. The account details that corresponded to the forged credit cards were stolen from a bank in South Africa.
Authorities have reason to believe that this heist was pulled off by an international crime syndicate. In fact, they have reason to believe that the 100 or so thieves that conspired to commit this three-hour bank robbery came into Japan specifically to commit this crime, and then promptly left the country.
The suspect ATM withdrawals began at around 5 am Sunday morning and ceased at about 8 am, some three hours later. By making the withdrawals very early on a day that the bank was closed, the perpetrators had enough time to take their cash haul and leave Japan before the bank even knew they had been robbed. This plan was very Ocean’s Eleven in some respects.
The same report that details this bank robbery, also says that this type of ATM bank robbery is nothing too new. Apparently, there have been similar bank heists in Japan and elsewhere around the world. During 2013 and 2014 bank hackers managed to swipe 4.5 billion yen from Japan and twenty-six other countries. Because banks don’t like to announce they have been robbed, I would wager that the real losses due to poor banking security are much higher.
Banking Security Is Getting Hacked: Banks Know It.
Another report details a much more serious type of banking security problem than forged credit cards. This past February, hackers gained access to SWIFT, which is the world wide interbank system that lets banks settle transactions. Once the hackers had access, they were able to make five transfers out of Bangladesh’s central bank. Those transfers totaled $101 million. The hackers actually went through the Federal Reserve Bank of New York to make the transfers.
According to the report, apparently, the hackers hacked into a “less-defended” bank and then posed as that legitimate institution in order to transfer money out of a much larger bank. Just as a chain is only as strong as its weakest link, banking security is only as good as the least secure banks, and there are a lot of insecure banking systems around the world.
The report also states that the United States spies on internet traffic from all over the world, and often spots these types of bank hacks first. President Obama has a task force that is looking into increasing banking security by increasing the amount of internet surveillance that it carries out and making it easier for top secret spying programs to share information with corporations.
Banking is about the transfer of funds and the paying of debts. Because banks no longer have to have cash on hand to settle transactions, there is very little cash in circulation. The way the US government reports fiscal information has changed, but best estimates say that only three to five percent of the dollars that exist are in printed form. That means that ninety-some percent of dollars are digital and exist only in cyberspace.
One has to wonder if more government spying and more government interaction with large banking corporations is a good answer to a bad problem. Banking security in regards to digital currency transactions is iffy at best. Large steel vaults are good at holding cash and gold, but computers are notorious for their accessibility and the ease at which hackers seem to defeat the best security available.
Banking Security Is Getting Hacked: Buy Gold.
Jim Rickards recently wrote a new book, titled The New Case For Gold. In his book, Rickards details just how vulnerable our banking and markets are. Gold coins and gold bars in a secure and well placed safe, however, are less vulnerable to theft and other threats. Owning gold gives you a way to diversify part of your savings out of the dollar and out of the banking system and into the security of precious metals.