Debit card security breach: Govt assures swift action

Assuring support to lakhs of customers who have lost money due to an unprecedented ATM security breach, Union Government on Friday said that it has initiated a probe and will take strictest action against those breached security.

“Have sought a report in the debit card issue. The idea is to contain the damage,”  Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said adding that government has sought a detailed report on the extent of debit card data compromise.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley Photo-PTI

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley
Photo-PTI

The government has also asked RBI and banks to provide details of the data breach and also banks’ preparedness to deal with cyber crimes.

“Customers need not worry; probe is underway and whatever action required will be taken,” said Secretary Department of Economic Affairs Shaktikanta Das

Das said that cyber security is a very important matter and government is probing the issue.

“Cyber Security is an important matter; detailed reports have been asked from the banks over security breach,” he said.

While the government has sought from them details of all necessary safety measures, several public and private sector banks have recalled or blocked over 32 lakh debit cards to safeguard their customers from financial fraud.

Bankers have already recalled cards include those that have been replaced as a ‘pre-emptive measure’, while in many cases the customers have been asked to mandatorily change the PIN and other security numbers to resume using the blocked cards.

Debit card security breach: Govt initiates probe

Debit card security breach: Govt initiates probe

While there were some reports about certain cards, affected by security breach, having been used fraudulently abroad including in China, bankers appeared putting the blame on a payment services provider that manages ATM network of a private sector bank.

State-run SBI is said to have re-called around 6 lakh cards, while others like Bank of Baroda, IDBI Bank, Central Bank and Andhra Bank have also replaced debit cards of several customers as a pre-emptive measure.

Among the private sector players, ICICI Bank, HDFC Bank and Yes Bank have asked customers to change their ATM PINs. HDFC Bank also advised its customers to use its own ATMs for carrying out any transaction.

The suspected security breach happened through a malware in the systems of Hitachi Payments Services, which serves ATM network of Yes Bank.

Hitachi provides payment services through ATM services, point of sale services (POS), emerging payments services and banking channel products like cash recycling ATMs and auto passbook entry machines.

SIT on Black Money has recommended banning of cash transactions over Rs. 3 lakh and personal holding of cash above Rs. 15 lakh to curb black money in the system.

SIT on Black Money has recommended banning of cash transactions over Rs. 3 lakh and personal holding of cash above Rs. 15 lakh to curb black money in the system.

Yes Bank sought to distance itself from the breach and stressed on need to police service providers in a better way.

“There needs to be a lot more vigilance where there are outsourcing partners to make sure they don’t endanger the delivery and system risk, and there’s a fair amount of policing as far as outsourcing risks are concerned,” Yes Bank chief Rana Kapoor told reporters.

Hitachi Payment Services, however, maintained its system was not compromised, citing interim report by an external audit agency appointed by it.

According to bankers, the breach took place in such a way that anyone using the said bank’s ATMs in the region might stand to get affected.

Concerned over the issue, the Finance Ministry has sought details from banks as also the additional steps that need to be taken to avert such incidents.

According to the Ministry sources, the Department of Financial Services has sought information about implication of such data compromise from Indian Banks Association.

Seeking to calm worried card users, the Finance Ministry also said that debit cards are completely safe and there should be no room for panic.

“Only about 0.5 per cent debit card details were compromised while remaining 99.5 cards are completely safe and bank customers should not panic,” Department of Financial Services Additional Secretary G C Murmu told PTI.

Meanwhile, a Finance Ministry source said, “We have got information from SBI that PIN (Personal Identification Number) related with few debit cards has been compromised and the bank is in the process of replacing it with new card in secured manner.”

The bank has taken measures to ensure safety of data, the source added.