Malaysia central bank cyber attack puts PH banks on alert

Published April 2, 2018, 12:05 AM

by Mario Casayuran and Vanne Elaine Terrazola

By Reuters

The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) has sounded an alert to local financial institutions following a cyber attack at the Malaysian central bank, in which hackers sought to steal money using fraudulent wire transfers.

Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) has said no funds were lost in the incident, which it identified on Tuesday, and involved falsified wire-transfer requests over the SWIFT bank messaging network, the latest in a series of electronic heists at financial institutions around the world.

BSP Governor Nestor Espenilla told Reuters on Saturday: “We issued a general alert reminder as soon as we got BNM advisory to be extra careful over the long holiday. Although banks already do that as SOP (standard operating procedure).”

“Information sharing is part of enhanced defensive protocols against cyber-crime,” Espenilla said.

The alert was issued on Wednesday, and there had been no specific threat, officials said.

Bank Negara did not say who was behind the hack or how they accessed its SWIFT servers. The central bank, which supervises 45 commercial banks in Malaysia, said on Thursday there was no disruption to other payment and settlement systems the central bank operates because of the cyber attack.

In February, 2016, the Philippine financial system was thrown into the global spotlight after $81 million (about P4 billion) that was stolen from Bangladesh central bank was channeled into several accounts at a Manila-based commercial bank, before disappearing into the local casino industry.