December 1, 2020, 5:57 am


2020-09-06 11:05:15 BdST

Banks on high alert for cyberattacks

Bangladesh Bank (BB) has issued an alert for the banks regarding potential cyberattacks targeting the banking systems.

The alert for the banks in Bangladesh came after the US government on Wednesday warned that North Korean hackers are tapping into banks around the globe to make fraudulent money transfers and cause ATMs to spit out cash.

BB sent alert messages to the top executives of the banks on Friday, notifying that the North Korean hackers have resumed targeting banks in multiple countries to initiate fraudulent international money transfers and ATM cash-outs.

It is believed that the North Korean hackers were responsible for stealing $81 million from a Bangladesh Bank in 2016, and have engaged in fraudulent ATM cash-outs affecting around 30 countries in a single incident.

According to the alert, the hackers’ ‘international robbery scheme’ poses severe operational risk for individual banks beyond reputation harm and financial losses.

“A robbery directed to one bank may implicate multiple banks in both the theft and the flow of illicit funds back to North Korea,” the alert warns.

The hackers initially targeted switch applications at individual banks with FASTCash malware but, more recently, have targeted at least two regional inter-bank payment processors.

The alert suggests that the hackers “are exploring upstream opportunities in the payments ecosystem.”

It has been learnt that the central banks have issued several alerts to the commercial banks over the last several days. Bangladesh Bank has also been monitoring the issue very closely.    

Sources said banks have taken precautionary measures to thwart any cyber attack and security breach into the systems.

The central bank has also heightened its monitoring on foreign currency transactions. Officials of card divisions and online banking at many banks have been working on the weekends to ensure the systems are safe and precautions are in place to prevent any security breach.

Vigilance has been strengthened at the ATM booths. Several banks have also temporarily suspended drawing money from their booths using the debit and credit cards of other banks.

Some banks have been switching off their ATM services after 11:00 pm.

Managing Director of Pubali Bank Md Abdul Halim Chowdhury said, “The IT infrastructure is a very sensitive area. We are careful not to allow hackers to enter the bank’s network and steal customer information. Security is being constantly updated.”

Managing Director of Dutch Bangla Bank Abul Kashem Md. Shirin said they have been working round the clock to make sure the digital services are secure.

“Dutch Bangla Bank is operating the largest ATM booth network in the country. our team already adapted necessary security measures to prevent cyber attacks. We have also urged the security agencies to be extra vigilant about suspicious transactions at ATM booths,” he added.

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