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Citibank today admitted that hackers stole $2.7 million from exposed accounts in May, at a time when similar incidents are prompting worldwide governments to crack down on cyber-crimes.

The New York-based company public acknowledged hackers lifted the millions from 3,400 accounts. The bank promised to reimburse customers in full, adding those affected already have new cards.

Hackers broke into the bank, exposing more than 360,000 accounts and stealing funds from less than one percent of Citi's customer base.

Though the attack occurred last month, Citibank kept silent about the breach until June 9. Spokesman Sean Kevelighan, however, insists the bank "immediately rectified the data breach upon discovery, while also placing internal fraud alerts and monitoring on all accounts at risk."

Security breaches like this one have become commonplace in the last several months, with hackers breaking into Sony,Lockheed Martin, Google and even the International Monetary Fund, in addition to hacks against governmental institutions like the CIA, FBI, U.S. Senate, NATO and the Turkish and Spanish police forces.

Most hackers chose to remain unidentified, but two groups, Anonymous and LulzSec, have consistently advertised their exploits to the world.

In the face of the chaos, governments worldwide have started to respond with a heavy hand. The Obama administration is proposing legislation to raise penalties for hardcore hacks. Prison times for government hacks would double under the new law, meaning hackers could face 20 years behind bars for endangering national security.

In addition, the Pentagon's new cyber-security initiative is calling for more network testing and perhaps even military retaliation if hacks are traced to foreign governments. As one military official hinted, "If you shut down our power grid, maybe we will put a missile in one of your smokestacks."

Turkish police recently nabbed 32 Anonymous hacktivists for targeting the government with distributed denial-of-service, or DDoS, attacks, and Spain arrested three men accused of doing the same thing to Sony.

British authorities are questioning Ryan Cleary over his alleged connection to the LulzSec hacking group, though LulzSec, which recently announced its disbanding, denies he was ever more than minimally involved.

If governments continue to hunt down hackers, they may be able to discourage exploits like the one against Citibank. Of course, the difficulty in tracing them is often insurmountable -- Sony still doesn't know who hacked them in April -- so until governments can match hackers' prowess, the security breaches won't stop anytime soon.


Source: Mobilemedia



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