Once again, the Pakistani banking system is under the cyber attacks. Bank Islami, a Pakistani bank has reportedly experienced one of the biggest cyber attacks in the country’s history. The incident happened when the bank witnessed an abnormal activity on one of its international payment card scheme, on October 27, 2018. Probably, a group of hackers breached the data of thousands of customers. The customers received automated messages about their payment cards used in different countries. Reportedly, customers lost $6 Million in this biggest security breach in Pakistan.
Right after the unfortunate incident, State Bank of Pakistan temporarily “restricted use of its cards for “overseas transactions (only),”. However, the cardholders will be able to do transactions within Pakistan. This is the third time that Pakistan witnessed such a massive cybersecurity breach in the country; though the second largest in the banking sector of Pakistan. Previously Careem and Habib Bank Limited had also detected such data breach activities.
Now, the Bank Islami debit cardholders need to be a bit more careful while doing the financial transactions. Experts have advised the ATM cardholder to change their passwords as soon as possible to prevent online financial frauds.
Regarding this cybersecurity breach, SBP stated that:
“As a result of a security breach of payment cards of one of the banks in Pakistan yesterday and their unauthorized use on different delivery channels ie at ATMs and POS (point of sale) in different countries, the bank has temporarily restricted usage of its cards for overseas transactions.”
State Bank of Pakistan issued the Security Measures
However, the central bank has issued the notification asking the bank to take all necessary measures to trace the vulnerability and fix it immediately.
On the other hand, SBP has ordered all the banks to immediately report to SBP in case of any unusual incidents. SBP will continue to evaluate these developments in coordination with banks and take further measures if required.
The following directives have been issued to all banks in Pakistan to ensure that:
- Make sure security measures on all IT systems, including those related to card operations, are continuously updated to meet any challenges in the future.
- Resources/Guards/ Cameras are deployed to ensure the 24/7 real-time monitoring of card operation related systems and transactions.
- Immediately coordinate with all the payment schemes, switch operators and media service providers the banks are connected with to identify any abnormal activity of suspicious transactions.