When a hacker strikes, he often leaves no trace. Whether they steal money or information, criminals aim to avoid detection and limit the damage as much as possible. And that’s why they target banks — which can have a vast network of employees and computers, as well as complex software and security perimeters. In the latest high-profile case, a team of hackers used a flaw in the SWIFT system to drain millions of dollars from Revolut customers.
It’s the latest blow for a company hailed by Chancellor Jeremy Hunt as “a shining example of Britain’s world beating fintech sector”. The news was reported by the Financial Times. The company says it has fixed the loophole that was exploited but it’s a significant setback for a business that has struggled to turn a profit.
According to the report, a combination of differences between European and US payment systems caused Revolut to erroneously refund accounts when transactions were declined in the United States. The scheme was reportedly carried out for months before the company realised what was happening and closed the loophole.
The SWIFT flaw was used by a group called Evil Corp. It’s a name that suggests the hackers’ devil-may-care attitude. They encouraged people to make expensive purchases on their cards that would otherwise have been rejected. They then drained their account balances in the United States before moving on to other targets. The company’s victims included a luggage firm, a dairy company and a religious order. The losses were estimated at $70 million.
Revolut is a global neobank with more than 13 million registered users. It offers a range of money management tools, including a prepaid debit card that can be used anywhere in the world. Its app also lets users see their real-time balance and send instant spend notifications. They can even freeze or block their card remotely in the app if their account is compromised. Revolut also has a “saving vault” that earns interest and allows you to exchange currencies at the interbank rate.
Its banking license is granted by the Bank of Lithuania. And it’s backed by the Metropolitan Commercial Bank of New York. It’s not a traditional bank, but it offers the same protection of funds deposited in a bank up to £85,000. And Revolut customers can use their card to buy crypto and pay for travel abroad. In addition, it provides a free prepaid Visa or Mastercard debit card for all its users in the UK and Europe. And they can use it to spend in up to 150 different currencies. It also allows its customers to exchange cryptocurrencies for free in the app and buy them using their account balance. They can also use their Revolut card with 500,000 apps that accept it. And it has an automated line that works 24/7 to help customers with their problems. The service is free for its Standard and Premium tier members, but metal tier customers get unlimited fee-free transfers.