NRB, NIC Asia Bank move to counter cyberattack

Published On: October 24, 2017 05:00 AM NPT By: Sagar Ghimire  | @sagarghi

Both banks reluctant to disclose amount siphoned off by hackers 

KATHMANDU, Oct 23: Nepal Rastra Bank (NRB) and NIC Asia Bank Ltd have stepped up efforts to prevent possible losses from a recent cyber attack against  NIC Asia using the SWIFT electronic money transfer system . 

Officials of  NRB said  the central bank has already sought the help of banks in countries from where  transfers have been requested by hackers. NRB has asked foreign central banks not to  make any payments sought. SWIFT is an international payments network. 

“It has been found that  transactions  of NIC Asia Bank have been carried out from various banks in six countries by  hackers using  SWIFT,” said Rajendra Pandit, deputy spokesperson of NRB. “We have already requested the central banks in those countries to stop processing  payments to the parties requested by the hackers. Even  payments which have  already been made are likely to be retrieved,” he added. 

Unknown hackers reportedly broke into the SWIFT system at NIC Asia Bank  and siphoned off an undisclosed amount  last week during the Tihar holidays. 
However, both NRB and NIC Asia Bank  have remained tight-lipped over the magnitude of the cyber theft or  the modus operandi of the hackers.     

Instead, both NRB and NIC have played down the cyber heist.  “We have decided to take down our server for the SWIFT system  after suspecting an intrusion into the system, which is completely different from our core banking system where client information and bank balances are maintained,” Roshan Kumar Neupane, an assistant chief executive officer at NIC Asia Bank, told Republica. “The attacks have been on the Nostro accounts maintained in foreign banks for payments in business activities  like letters of credit (LC).

The financial losses have not been as damaging as  feared  as the balances in such accounts are very low,” said Neupane. He did not delve into the amount that the hackers have siphoned off.   

NIC Asia Bank Ltd has also commissioned a forensic investigation by KPMG, a global firm providing audit, tax and advisory services, according to  officials at NIC.
“We can have a clearer picture  in the next three days and we expect a full report from  KPMG within a week,” said NIC  assistant CEO Neupane. 

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