Gang foiled in plot to take over Santander UK's computers

A criminal gang tried to take control of Santander's computers to steal millions, and they used some pretty basic tech, too.

I would've thought technology like CCTV would've stopped people trying to rob banks, but apparently the crims move with the times. The Metropolitan Police have smashed an "audacious" plot to take control of Santander UK's computer systems and steal million of pounds, Reuters reports.

The gang used kit you could find in your company's IT department too, which is a bit worrying.

Detectives described the ploy as the most significant of its kind. Here's how it worked.

Someone pretending to be a maintenance engineer from a telecoms firm waltzed into the Surrey Quays branch of Santander and fixed a KVM (a keyboard, video and mouse switch) to a computer. A KVM is usually used when someone in another room needs to take control of your desktop to diagnose a problem.

"In effect, this allowed the suspects to take control of the bank computers remotely," said a spokesperson for the Metropolitan Police. He added the group would "imminently have been in a position to go operational". Which is police talk for "we got there just in time."

Santander was aware of the scam, and worked closely with the fuzz.

The Met's e-Crime Unit arrested 11 men at an address in west London yesterday, and another in central London. All 12 are aged between 23 and 50, and are being held in custody.

Cybercrime is estimated to have cost our economy between £18-27 billion in the last year. British financial services lost £5.4 billion due to fraud, according to government data. Of that £5.4 billion, online banking fraud cost banks £40 million.

Have you ever been the victim of fraud? Do you think features like the fingerprint scanner in Apple's iPhone 5S  will help keep your data safe? Let me know in the comments, or on our Fort Knox-like Facebook page.

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About the author

    Joe has been writing about consumer tech for nearly seven years now, but his liking for all things shiny goes back to the Gameboy he received aged eight (and that he still plays on at family gatherings, much to the annoyance of his parents). His pride and joy is an Infocus projector, whose 80-inch picture elevates movie nights to a whole new level.

     

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