Central bank ‘defeats’ cyber hack

The Bank Negara Malaysia central bank says it was the victim of a cyber attack using fraudulent wire transfers as hackers increasingly hit the world’s major financial institutions.

The bank said no funds were lost in the falsified wire-transfer requests over the Swift messaging network. The amount involved in the incident, which happened on Tuesday, was not disclosed.

Swift’s global messaging services are used by more than 11,000 financial institutions in more than 200 countries to move trillions worth of dollars a day.
Targeting a central bank will probably to prompt financial organisations to review cyber defences.

“You thwarted an attack but you didn’t actually catch the hackers,” said Tom Kellermann, who previously worked on the World Bank’s security. “That adversary is still out there attempting to exploit the system.”

Bank Negara said all risk control measures worked effectively to handle the incident and it had taken additional safeguards to protect its stakeholders.

The central bank supervises 45 Malaysia commercial banks. It said there was no disruption to other payment and settlement systems.

“All unauthorised transactions were stopped through prompt action in strong collaboration with Swift, other central banks and financial institutions,” the central bank announced. “Financial institutions are also advised to be vigilant of the heightened risk in cybersecurity and continue to strengthen their security safeguards against these incidences.”
Last month, the Russian central bank said unidentified hackers stole US$6 million from a Russian bank last year in an attack using the Swift system.

Swift, the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, said it did not comment on individual incidents.

The Brussels-based organisation said last year that digital hacks were becoming increasingly common as hackers used more sophisticated tools and techniques to attack.

“We have no indication that our network and core messaging services have been compromised,” Swift said.

“Fake” news

In political news, Malaysia has cut the proposed maximum jail term in a bill prohibiting what the authorities arbitrarily define as “fake” news from 10 to six years. The move comes after an outcry from human rights activists and opposition MPs who say the bill aims to gag dissent ahead of the general election that must be held by August.

The anti-fake news bill, which was presented to parliament on Monday, is being debated by MPs and expected to pass into law next week.

The proposed legislation also calls for a fine of up to 500,000 ringgit (US$129,000).

Legal minister Azalina Othman said the executive had decided to reduce the maximum sentence after facing criticism.

She told MPs that the government would also alter a clause making it a crime to “maliciously” create “fake” news, instead of “knowingly” in the original bill.


Kuala Lumpur is trying to bolster its financial reputation. Picture credit: Pixabay