comscore 3.2 million debit cards of Indian banks compromised; 4 things you should know
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3.2 million debit cards of Indian banks compromised; 4 things you should know

Several major banks in India have been hit by a security breach impacting over 3.2 million users, probably one of the biggest ever in India.

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In what may be the worst security breach for the banks in India, about 32 lakh debit cards are estimated to have been impacted by malware at the back end, and may have exposed the card and PIN details of its users. State run State Bank of India (SBI) and private banks like HDFC Bank, ICICI Bank, YES Bank and Axis Bank are believed to have been most impacted by the malware. Considering that the malware had impacted the back end quite some time ago, banks along with RBI have hit the panic button, and are making efforts to control damage. Interestingly, there’s no report on the extent of damage that has been caused. SBI will reportedly reissue debit cards to six lakh customers who had used their card at suspected networks whereas other banks have sought customers to change their ATM PINs to prevent further damage. Also Read - Cryptocurrency regulation bill: How worried are Indian investors?

The latest breach comes amid several calls by industry experts to ramp up security in the wake of growing cybercrimes around the world. So far, the incidents of ATM frauds involved criminals tricking users to get the information or rig a particular ATM machine or even use hidden cameras to know the PIN. The latest cyber attack is most likely the most sophisticated attack on the Indian banks. Here are four important things you need to know about the biggest-ever attack on the banks in India. Also Read - Indian mobile gaming market to shoot up to at least $5 billion by 2025: Report

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The origin of the hack is believed to have spread from the backend of Axis Bank that was based on Hitachi Payment Services, which cybercriminals managed to get into. The company provides ATM and point of sale among other services to many banks in the country. Axis Bank, one of the affected banks, reportedly got a call from a Kaspersky Lab engineer, who told them about the breach. Upon preliminary investigation, the Axis Bank team found out that there was indeed an unauthorized entry to its backend from an anonymous hacker. The bank has submitted its preliminary report to RBI.

“Preliminary reports of the audit conducted have been submitted… and the report does not establish any system-level breach at Hitachi Payment Services,” Trak.in quotes Axis Bank as saying. “Safety and security of our systems and processes is of paramount importance to us and we constantly monitor and are vigilant in our efforts to combat any potential threats. We would like to state that there has been no monetary loss,” the bank maintained.

Meanwhile, some customers have reported about transactions happening on their cards in China.

Who have been hit?

All major banks in India have reportedly been hit by the network collapse. These banks are SBI, HDFC, ICICI, Yes Bank and Axis Bank. Right now there’s no information on whether other banks have been affected too. It is worth pointing out that SBI along with HDFC and ICICI Bank are the largest banks in India.

SBI says that its systems were not affected but it is still taking measures to ensure no one suffers from the breach. “Card network companies NPCI, MasterCard and Visa had informed various banks about a potential risk to some cards owing to a data breach. Accordingly, we have taken precautionary measures and have blocked cards of certain customers identified by the networks,” SBI is quoted as saying.

“We came to know about security breach and proactively recalled affected cards as we did not want our customers to be at any risk. There was no breach in our system. We are now issuing EMV-based debit cards which cannot be compromised,” SBI deputy managing director and chief operating officer Manju Agarwal said.

What the banks are doing?

According to reports, card companies NPCI, MasterCard and Visa have informed the banks about the vulnerability to data breach. The banks are taking several precautionary measures to avoid any further damage. SBI has confirmed that it has blocked cards of certain customers identified by the networks. Though SBI has not revealed the number of cards it has blocked but reports suggest it has blocked a whopping six lakh cards. “We are now issuing EMV-based debit cards which cannot be compromised,” SBI deputy managing director and chief operating officer Manju Agarwal is quoted as saying.

Meanwhile, HDFC has sent messages to its users notifying to change their ATM pins. Axis bank has hired EY, an audit and advisory firm, to conduct an investigation into the matter. Meanwhile, Yes Bank has said that it has conducted an audit of ATMs and did not find any evidence of a breach or hacked ATMs. “We continue to work with relevant stakeholders, including other public sector and private banks, and NPCI, to ensure utmost safety and security of ATM network and payment services which are completely safe to use.” the bank is quoted as saying.

Meanwhile, RBI has decided to review its reporting framework and has asked banks to inform the central bank about any fraud immediately. According to report the information will be shared with other banks on “no-name” basis, so that all the banks take necessary efforts.

What you should do?

It is worth pointing out that there’s no clarity on the extent of damage. Though some banks have said that their systems haven’t been breached, you should not take the risk. You should change your debit card pins immediately and perhaps all related online accounts if you have.

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  • Published Date: October 21, 2016 11:01 AM IST



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