World’s largest bank ICBC pays ransom after LockBit hack disrupted the markets, cybercriminals claim

China’s largest lender, the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC), reportedly paid a ransom to cybercriminals who targeted the bank in a recent hack, according to a statement from a representative of the LockBit ransomware gang to Reuters on Monday. However, Reuters noted that it was unable to independently verify the claim.

In a message sent via the online messaging app Tox, a LockBit representative told Reuters, “They paid a ransom, deal closed.” However, ICBC has not immediately responded to requests for comments.

The revelation comes just three days after the U.S. financial services division of ICBC, the world’s largest bank by assets, fell victim to a ransomware attack. The attack allegedly disrupted U.S. Treasury trade, causing volatility in the Treasury market.

The ransomware attack also raised concerns about the resilience of the Treasury market, a critical component of the global financial system. During the incident, the blackout at the bank’s U.S. broker-dealer resulted in a temporary liability of $9 billion to BNY Mellon, a sum significantly exceeding its net capital.

The extent of the hack was substantial, leading to the complete dysfunction of corporate email within the firm. As a result, employees had to resort to using Google Mail, Reuters reported.

The LockBit ransomware gang is notorious for its sophisticated methods and has targeted numerous high-profile organizations in recent years. The fact that ICBC, a global banking giant, succumbed to paying a ransom underscores the severity of the ransomware threat and highlights the vulnerability even of well-protected organizations.

The attack on ICBC marks a significant development in cybersecurity, being the first known instance where a ransomware attack disrupted the trade of U.S. Treasurys. This event is expected to have a ripple effect across the financial industry.

The incident prompts questions about ICBC’s security measures, as it remains unclear how the hackers gained access to the bank’s systems and what data may have been compromised. ICBC has not provided additional details about the attack or outlined steps it is taking to enhance security. Nevertheless, the aftermath is likely to result in increased scrutiny of ICBC’s security practices by regulators and customers alike.

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