KARACHI: Amid cyberattacks on Pakistani banks, many account holders are cancelling their debit and credit cards to avoid becoming victims of cybercrime.
“I’ve closed my online account because of ongoing cyberattacks,” businessman Abdul Samad Memon told Arab News on Wednesday. “The banks aren’t sharing details of what’s happening.”
The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) recently seized the bank account of an ice-cream vendor that contained 2.25 billion Pakistani rupees ($16.84 million). And on Oct. 27, Bank Islami reported that its IT security had been breached.
On Monday, local media reported the FIA’s cybercrime chief, Mohammad Shoaib, as saying customers’ data from almost every major Pakistani bank had been stolen in a recent security breach.
But the State Bank of Pakistan said there is “no evidence” to support Shoaib’s claim, and data from only one bank had been compromised.
On Oct. 26, the Pakistan Computer Emergency Response Team (PakCERT), a cybersecurity services provider, reported a data dump on the dark web from more than 9,000 debit cards, of which 8,864 belonged to customers of Pakistani banks.
The compromised cards were sold for $100-$160, PakCERT said, adding that there was a second dump on Oct. 31 from more than 12,000 cards, 11,000 of them from Pakistani banks. A total of 19,864 cards were compromised from 22 Pakistani banks, it said.
Experts say the breaches were well organized. “The pattern of infiltration clearly shows that more than one entity was involved,” said financial and banking technologist S. M. Arif. “The withdrawals have taken place through financial systems, which means it’s a failure of multiple entities at multiple points.”
Banker A. B. Shahid told Arab News: “Customers believed that the banking systems were reliable and secure, but their confidence has been shaken.”
In the rush to promote electronic banking in Pakistan, banks had failed to take steps to install anti-hacking systems, he said. It will take banks several weeks to come up with a solution to online fraud, he added.
Memon said: “Previously we were victims of armed gangs, but now we’re facing online gangs that are bent on robbing us.”