US federal agents tracking cybercriminals who broke into the networks of JPMorgan Chase & Co are "confident" charges will be filed in the coming months.
Law enforcement agencies investigating the breach believe a criminal case will be filed against the hackers this year, the New York Times reported on Sunday. According to the publication, federal agents are "increasingly confident" they are on the right trail to unmask and apprehend the hackers.
In addition, law enforcement officials believe at least several of those suspected to have taken part in the cyberattack are "gettable" -- in other words, they live in countries where an extradition treaty with the United States is in place. Countries including Russia, Ukraine, Vietnam and Morocco are not included.
In late summer last year, the financial services firm discovered a data breach which resulted in the theft of 83 million accounts belonging to households and small businesses. The names, addresses, phone numbers, email addresses and internal JPMorgan Chase user records were all compromised, although no financial information, Social Security numbers, dates of birth or usernames and passwords were lost.
The cyberattackers were able to access JPMorgan's networks through a compromised employee computer which was infected with malware. The malicious code then established a VPN tunnel into the corporation's systems, granting the hackers access to databases where sensitive information was stored.
The case is advancing more quickly than previous estimates, as the attack "was not nearly as sophisticated as initially believed," the NYT says. As a result, federal agents were able to identify a number of suspects early on, a crucial factor in the investigation.
The JPMorgan hacking case has become a top priority, as the banking system is considered critical infrastructure in the United States. The case is being handled by top law enforcement and senior investigators in the FBI.
High-profile attacks against US companies and retailers are becoming monthly news bites in a world where digital warfare and cyberespionage are used to steal valuable data or to cripple computer systems. Across the last year alone, Staples, Target and Sony have become poster children for data breaches -- resulting in the loss of millions of customer and employee records, the theft of executive communications and destruction of computer networks at high cost to each company, both financially and in reputation.
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