The electronic attack on JPMorgan Chase’s network, now under investigation by federal law enforcement, apparently spanned months, according to a report by Bloomberg News. Starting in June, hackers used multiple custom-crafted bits of malware to infiltrate the bank’s infrastructure and slowly shipped bits of bank transaction data back out through computers in several countries before it was sent onward to Russia.
The attack, which went on for more than two months before being detected by JPMorgan in a security scan, bears the fingerprints of similar long-game attacks against corporate targets by cybercriminals from Eastern Europe, some of whom have developed capabilities more advanced than state-sponsored hackers. While the details obtained by Bloomberg’s Jordan Robertson and Michael Riley are sparse, the information provided by their sources is consistent with attacks on a number of European banks earlier this year.
While the FBI and National Security Agency are reportedly investigating whether the attack came from Russian state-sponsored hackers—or at least state-sanctioned ones—in retaliation for sanctions against Russia, making that connection will be difficult at best. It seems more likely, based on recent security reports, that the attacks were criminal in nature—but relied on tools and techniques that may have a mixed provenance, using methods honed in attacks on other banks and on government targets for financial gain.