Data From “Most” Pakistani Banks Allegedly Stolen

- November 8th, 2018

The Federal Investigation Agency’s cybercrime chief spoke to media, revealing that data from most Pakistani banks has been stolen.

Pakistan Banks’ Association (PBA) announced on Wednesday (November 8) that banks in Pakistan are continually strengthening their cybersecurity as reports emerge that data from “most” banks has been stolen.

The association representing the banking industry of Pakistan said in a statement to Dawn, a newspaper, that they would consider potential risks and threats as the sector adopts to digital technologies.

The statement from PBA comes on the heels of contradicting reports which claimed that sensitive data and “large” amounts of rupees were stolen from customers.

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The Federal Investigation Agency’s (FIA) cyber-crime chief spoke to media where he revealed that data from Pakistani banks were stolen. Mohammad Shoaib, director of FIA cyber-crime, was responding to a report from Group-IB which claimed that large amounts of data containing details of debit cards from Pakistan were being put on the “dark web” for sale.

“Almost all [Pakistani] banks’ data has been breached. According to the reports that we have, most of the banks have been affected,” Shoaib said.

However, the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), the country’s central bank said that except for one bank, there was no evidence of data being hacked from other banks.

“There is no evidence to this effect nor has this information been provided to SBP by any bank or law enforcement agency,” reads a statement from SBP. “SBP has already instructed all banks to take steps to identify and counter any cyber threat to their systems in coordination with international payment schemes.”

The whole issue arose after Bank Islami detected a fraudulent transaction of Rs. 2.6 million (US$20,000). In the aftermath of the cyberattack, the bank paused international transactions on a temporary basis.

Meanwhile, Pakistan Computer Emergency Team, a cybersecurity company in the country revealed in a report the extent of the data breach, which is in excess of 9,000 debit cards.

At the 11th International Conference on Cyber Warfare, held in 2016 in USA, Jawad Awan and Shahzad Memon presented a research paper where it was highlighted that Pakistan is set to face numerous cyberattacks. The research from then-University of Sindh students detailed areas where cyberattacks would be possible and urged the country to implement strict cybersecurity policies.

Although, the current attack was termed by the media as the largest cyber attack in Pakistan, the banks in the country are set to increase their cybersecurity measures.

A report from Research and Markets said that the cybersecurity market in Asia-Pacific is set to grow at an annual compound annual growth rate of 15 percent to reach US$46.09 billion by 2023.

The report mentions several companies who could be at the forefront of cybersecurity in the region and the companies include Check Point Software (NASDAQ:CHKP), Cisco System (NASDAQ:CSCO), IBM (NYSE:IBM), Palo Alto Network (NYSE:PANW), Symantec (NASDAQ:SYMC) and Trend Micro (TSE:4704).

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Securities Disclosure: I, Bala Yogesh, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.

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