Undercover in the Boardroom: How a Red Teamer Hacked a Bank

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June 11, 2024 | Cyber Security
  1. Introduction

By Ashwani Mishra, Editor – Technology, 63SATS

I recently had the opportunity to speak with an Red Teamer hacker who shared an intriguing story. He recounted how a few years back, on a hot Monday in May, he was tasked with ethically hacking a prominent bank.

His mission: break into the board members’ inbox folders, take a screenshot, and present it in the management review.

Under the condition of anonymity, he revealed that he was given two days to achieve this feat. He was also provided with a bailout letter in case he was caught by guards or employees while performing the act.

The pressure was immense, as getting caught would result in losing out on payment to the company conducting the security assessment.

Utilizing a Mock Fire Drill for Stealth Entry into the Corporate Office

The operation required him to physically enter the corporate office of the bank.

“It was around 10 AM, and I was alone, tasked with infiltrating the premises without being detected,” he began, his voice carrying a hint of the tension he must have felt. “Luckily, at 10:30 AM, a mock fire drill was scheduled. I watched as the employees streamed out of the building, their faces a mix of annoyance and relief at the brief respite from their work.”

As the drill concluded and the crowd began to re-enter the building, he saw his opportunity. With a deep breath, he blended into the throng. He noticed an identity card on one of the desks and quickly snatched it up, placing the lanyard around his neck. He tucked the photo card into his pocket, leaving only the band visible.

Now, he needed an open office and a system to begin his task. His eyes scanned the room, seeking a quiet, secluded spot.

“I found one,” he continued, his eyes narrowing as he relived the moment. “I quietly sat down at a desk, my fingers steady, as I began to work. I had to bypass the Network Operations Center without making any ‘noise’ and drawing any attention. Every second felt like an eternity as I made my way to the target.”

Accessing Sensitive Emails Leads to Major Security Shakeup

Time seemed to slow as he navigated through the security protocols. His senses were heightened; every footstep, every rustle of paper seemed amplified. The air was thick with tension, his pulse echoing in his ears.

“After what felt like hours, but was only about 45 minutes, I managed to access the emails of two board members and the CEO of the bank,” he said, a hint of pride in his voice. “I took the necessary screenshots, my eyes flicking nervously to the door with every click. Once my mission was accomplished and I had what I needed, I left the premises as swiftly as I had entered.”

The result of this daring success was significant.

A month later, the Chief Information Security Officer had left the organization, a stark reminder of the vulnerabilities that even the most secure institutions face.

This gripping tale highlights the delicate balance between security and vulnerability, showing how even the most secure environments can be breached with the right combination of skill, timing, and audacity.

As technology advances, so do the tactics of those who seek to exploit it, making vigilance and innovation in cybersecurity more crucial than ever.

What do you think?

Stay tuned for more intriguing stories from the world of hacking.