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Web hacks a risk for banks

7 National bank

Growing cyber attacks on government institutions and infrastructure could pose a threat to Cambodia’s vulnerable banking sector, officials with the National Cambodia Computer Emergency Response Team (CamCert) said yesterday.

Speaking at the fifth annual Banking and Microfinance Conference at the Intercontinental Hotel in Phnom Penh yesterday, Ou Phannarith, head of CamCert, said the increase in cyber crimes would harm the worldwide banking network.

But in Cambodia, with relatively weak internet security systems in place, the threat was more serious.

“Banks in Cambodia are getting more threats from attacks of hackers, cyber criminals and even other nation states,” he said. “They are mainly for money or political attacks.”

Phannarith quoted a 2013 report from the information security company M-Trends, which said that cyber attacks in the finance field accounted for about 11 per cent of the international total.

He also referred to findings from the anti-virus protection firm Kaspersky Lab, which lumped Cambodia together with a host of countries whose internet infrastructure remained vulnerable to global viruses.

Cambodia has weathered web attacks before. In June of last year, the National Bank was hacked, and information – including administration usernames and passwords – was leaked.

Months later, in September, the Post reported that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was hacked by the crusading web organization Anonymous in retaliation for Pirate Bay co-founder Gottfrid Svartholm Warg’s deportation. Internet banking certificate depos and papers from various governmental bodies were leaked.

Area bank executives, however, feel confident about the status of their internet security setup.

Grant Knuckey, CEO of  Australian-owned ANZ Royal Bank, said a security apparatus to protect customer data is already in place.

“We have our secure program in verifying each client’s identity and also tight protection of their information and privacy,” he said, adding that the bank may launch an upgrade later this year.  

So Phonnary, executive vice president of ACLEDA Bank Plc, the largest bank in Cambodia, said the company had not experienced any attacks from hackers, and their IT department was strong enough to “kick the thefts out”.

“When we release a new product or new service functions, such as mobile or internet banking, we will encrypt the private information of clients and secure the whole system,” she said.

She admitted, however, that cyber attacks could become a worrying problem.

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