Following a cyber security breach in the country’s banking system, India’s largest bank, the State Bank of India (SBI), has advised customers to use its own automatic teller machines (ATMs) for safe transactions.
An estimated 3.2 million debit cards issued by various public or private banks are said to have been exposed to a potential risk of data breach.
Several banks including SBI have advised customers to change their personal identification numbers. The banks have recalled thousands of debit cards and blocked others that they fear have been hacked.
The breach is thought to have been caused by malware on an ATM network.
SBI to replace 600,000 debit cards
A senior SBI official said on Friday the bank is looking to replace within 10 days around 600,000 debit cards which were blocked by it as a preventive measure.
“We have set an internal target of seven to ten days for issuing the new debit cards to the customers whose cards have been blocked,” said SBI Chief General Manager (Kolkata Circle) Partha Pratim Sengupta.
“We advise our customers to use SBI ATMs only at the moment for safe transactions,” he said.
SBI on Wednesday said card network companies NPCI, Mastercard and Visa had informed various banks about a potential risk to some cards owing to a data breach.
“Accordingly, SBI has taken precautionary measures and blocked cards of certain customers identified by the networks. This is a proactive measure to protect our customers from any potential fraud once we came to know of some data breach outside our Bank,” the bank said in a statement, adding that it was in the process of issuing new cards.
Central government to investigate
Finance Minister Arun Jaitely said Friday the government was investigating how the security breach occurred.
The National Payments Corporation of India that controls all retail payments systems in India said banks had received complaints from customers that their cards had been used fraudulently in China and USA. The NCPI has alerted banks that 3.2 million cards were affected.
Considering that millions of NRIs worldwide have NRE/NRO Bank accounts in India, a large number of them are also vulnerable to the threat.
On Friday, NCPI’s managing director and CEO, Abhaya Prasad Hota, sought to reassure customers that financial authorities had stepped up precautions.
“Necessary corrective actions already have been taken,” Hota said. “There is no reason for bank customers to panic.”
13 million rupees withdrawn fraudulently
The NPCI, in a statement, said a total of 13 million rupees ($195,000) were withdrawn fraudulently, mainly in China and the United States, in transactions affecting 19 banks and 641 customers.
Apart from SBI, other Indian banks include the Bank of Baroda, IDBI Bank, Central Bank and Andhra Bank that have replaced debit cards.
Among private sector players, ICICI Bank, HDFC Bank and Yes Bank have advised customers to change their identity numbers or change their cards.
– Published on: 21 October 2016