Safety and Security

Philippine Central Bank Issues Alert After Cyberattack On Malaysian Bank

The Philippine central bank is warning local financial institutions to be on the lookout for cyberattacks after the Malaysian central bank was hacked.

According to Reuters, the hackers attempted to steal money from Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) using fraudulent wire transfers over the SWIFT bank messaging network.

BNM said no funds were lost in the incident, which is the latest electronic heist inflicted upon financial institutions around the world.

“We issued a general alert reminder as soon as we got BNM’s advisory to be extra careful over the long holiday. Although banks already do that as SOP (standard operating procedure),” Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor Nestor Espenilla said in a phone message. “Information sharing is part of enhanced defensive protocols against cybercrime.”

The attempted hack was caught on Tuesday and the alert was issued on Wednesday, although there has been no specific threat.

BNM, which supervises 45 commercial banks in Malaysia, did not announce who was behind the hack or how the SWIFT servers were accessed. The attack did not have an impact on the bank’s other payment and settlement systems.

Philippine’s central bank is likely being proactive after what happened in February 2016, when $81 million stolen from Bangladesh central bank was placed into several accounts at Manila-based Rizal Commercial Banking Corp (RCBC) before disappearing into the local casino industry.

That money was stolen from an account maintained through the New York Federal Reserve, with the funds taken from the New York location and routed through Manila through falsified transfer orders. The hackers had been attempting to steal as much as $1 billion from the central bank account.

The attack led financial institutions around the globe to boost security measures. It is still unknown who carried out the attack, and so far only about $15 million has been recovered.

As a result, the Philippine central bank fined RCBC a record one billion pesos ($20 million) for its failure to prevent the movement of the stolen money. RCBC blamed rogue employees for the incident.

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