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Why the debit card data breach should worry you

Several Indian financial institutions have, in the past few months, increasingly come under cyber attacks. News reports in the past few days say that, apart from the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE), several banks including the State Bank of India (SBI) have seen their data security systems come under attack, compromising debit card data and other vital financial information. Here’s all that you may want to know.

When did this all begin?

Although no one seems to be certain about when the latest spate of cyber attacks actually began, a news report in Business Standard said on Thursday that at least three financial institutions including the BS) have come under cyber attacks in the past three months, compromising debit card data and other vital information.

Which institutions have been affected so far?

News reports say that apart from the BSE, several banks including SBI, ICICI Bank, HDFC Bank, YES Bank and Axis Bank have all been impacted. 

What do we know so far about the damage already done?

The Economic Times reported on Thursday that as many as 32 lakh debit cards may have been compromised, in what is turning out to be the biggest ever breach of financial data in India. The report said that the hack originated in the systems of Hitachi Payments Services, which provides ATM point of sale services. It said that the hackers stole funds using the financial information. The Business Standard report said that in some cases a malware blocks the system, which can then be accessed only after a ransom has been paid.

What are banks doing about it?

The Economic Times said that as many as 26 lakh cards on the Visa and Mastercard platforms, and 6 lakh cards on the RuPay platform may be replaced. SBI has said that it has blocked over 6 lakh cards. Axis Bank has reportedly already hired consultancy EY to probe the cyber attack. HDFC Bank has asked its customers to change their ATM PINs. The Payments Council of India has reportedly ordered a forensic audit of bank servers.  

But why should these attacks worry me if I have not been impacted?

As a VCCircle analysis earlier this week showed, more and more Indians are preferring to go cashless, be it through debit or credit cards, Internet banking or Prepaid Payment Instruments (PPIs) such as mobile wallets. Data show that almost 74 crore debit and credit cards are in circulation, of which more than 71 crore are debit cards. India also has just under 15 lakh point of sale terminals. So, even if your financial data has not been compromised till now, you remain potentially vulnerable to such hacks in future.

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State Bank of India is engaged in providing banking and financial services. It offers personal banking, agricultural, non-resident indian (NRI) services, international banking, automated teller machine (ATM) and corporate banking services. The firm also operates in capital markets, fund management, factoring and commercial services, credit cards and brokerage services. The company was founded in 1806 and is based in Mumbai, Maharashtra. State Bank of India operates as a subsidiary of the Government of India.

ICICI Bank Ltd. is engaged in providing financial services. It offers banking services like saving accounts, NRI (non-resident of India) savings account, current accounts and salary account; fixed deposits, tax saver fixed deposit, recurring deposits, etc; safe deposit locker; credit cards, debit cards, prepaid card; foreign exchange operations, investments, payments facilities for recharge, bills payment, money transfer, tax solution, travel and shopping; pay at stores, gift vouchers, mutual funds etc. The firm also offers loans such as home loan, personal loan, car loan, loan against property, gold loans etc; and insurance namely life insurance, health insurance, home insurance, travel insurance, motor insurance, etc; micro banking, microfinance, venture capital, and asset management to corporate and retail customers. It also enables the user to apply online for creating accounts, deposits, foreign exchange, loans, insurance, cards, investments etc. The company was founded in 1955 and is based in Mumbai, Maharashtra with an additional office in Vadodara.

HDFC Bank Ltd. is engaged in providing financial services. It is involved in providing a range of banking and financial services such as accounts and deposits like saving accounts, salary accounts, current accounts, deposits, safe deposit locker and rural accounts; loans such as personal loan, car loans, business loan, loan on credit card, loans for professionals, loan against securities, home loan, two wheeler loans, gold loan, education loan, rural loans, etc; cards like credit cards, debit cards, prepaid cards, credit card rewards program and loan on credit card; demat account, investment assist; investments products, investment advisory reports; insurance such as life insurance, health insurance, motor insurance, travel insurance, home insurance and two wheeler insurance; foreign exchange services; premier banking like imperia banking, preferred banking and classic banking; and private banking. The company was incorporated in 1994 and is based in Mumbai, Maharashtra.

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