A major cyber-attack at the back-end system of a bank has suspected to compromised at least 32 lakh debit cards used in ATMs that are suspected to have exposed cards and PIN details to malwares at the back end.
The unprecedented data breach forced several banks to either replace or ask customers to change the security codes of their ATM-cum-debit cards.
News Nation Digital talked to Kanishka Kumar Dhibar, AGM, IDBI Bank, who gave a cautious insight about the incident.
In Dhibar's opinion, some foreign agency might have caused the breach which is, as for now, difficult to geographically locate as the hackers are shifting from one server to another to avoid detection. The hackers might have used malwares that remain dormant for about 5-6 months. They get activated later on and start collecting data through bank's system.
Dhibar also indicated that the breach can be used to syphon-off money from bank accounts or make payments to any third-party country. However, it is difficult to assess how sensitive the breach is as there has been no monetary loss reported to the RBI by any of the banks.
Also read: Debit card security breach: Cards fraudulently used in China and USA while customers were in India, says NPCI
1. What significant measures should banks adopt while tying up with a third-party service provider for its ATM network and payment gateway mechanism
Answer: There are approved policies in terms of security and confidentiality and the third-party service providers are well aware of the terms and conditions but the risks are always high. Banks and service providers also undergo internal IT audits and IT information system check on a regular basis. Somehow, such breach may occur and banks consider them as operational risks. Even after adapting optimum precautions there are chances of a breach.
2. The banks have come in their defence by stating that it was more of a back-end security breach, with no intrinsic flaws in their system. How true is the same in your opinion?
Answer: From back-end we mean where the data is usually kept. So even a mail containing virus or a pen-drive infected with a malware can breach the back-end. Such things should be handled carefully and there are approved guidelines but no matter how much precautionary steps are taken, there is no surety how the things are taking place on a daily basis. There is always a chance of a breach and that can be costly.
3. What measure should a customer take on his behalf if his account/card has been breached due to such a security lapse?
Answer: A customer should be very attentive each time he receives a transaction alert through a mail or an SMS from his bank. He should pay attention to all the details about his bank debits. In case of any discrepancies, he should contact the bank authorities without delay. If such a situation arises, he can request the bank to freeze his account for a time being to avoid big monetary losses. While using online banking from a cyber cafe, a customer should ensure that the connection and the landing page he is getting on the computer is secured as such system are prone to malware breaches. So a customer should be well-informed and educated in such matters.
4. Are a large number of third-party transaction on ATM machines of a specific bank vulnerable to malware attacks? If so, can an alternative mechanism be thought of?
Answer: See, the online banking system and the advent of ATMs has changed the orthodox way of money transactions. On one hand it has made life easier for customers, on the other, it is prone to hacking. So it is a double-edged sword that should be dealt with very carefully.
5. Is it safe for customers to withdraw money from ATM of other banks if there is an urgency?
Answer: It is absolutely safe.
6. From a common man's perspective, how safe is his/her money in the Indian banks which have been affected by the security breach?
Answer: The customers shouldn't panic as their money is safe with the banks. The Indian banking system is very robust and banks are capable in keeping their money safe.