Union Bank of India retrieved hacked $171 million in 6 days

Posted on:17 Apr 2017 14:56:53
Union Bank of India retrieved hacked $171 million in 6 days
17 April 2017 Current Affairs: Government-owned Union Bank of India, which lost $171 million (1,100 crore at today's rates) because of a hack last year, worked with the RBI and government to track and retrieve the amount within six days. The heist had taken place through a phishing email that appeared to be from the RBI, causing the transfer of funds to four different countries.It was just another Friday for the hundreds of office goers who were jostling with each other to get to their own work places in and around the corporate office of the Union Bank of India at Nariman Point in Mumbai. Even those queuing up in the early hours at the cash counters across the 4,233 branches and 7,946 ATMs of the bank spread across India, were calmly going about their tasks— depositing money or withdrawing cash.However, those early hours of 21 July 2016, were going to be anything but ordinary for the chairman and managing director of Union Bank, Arun Tiwari, who also sits in the corporate office—the Union Bank Bhavan. Happily going about his routine tasks of reading newspapers, sipping a cup of tea and updating himself of the goings-on in the bank, Tiwari was just settling in when his phone rang.He still remembers the time. “It was around 10.30am when I was informed that an unidentified hacker was attempting to swindle us of $171 million (about Rs1,100 crore at today’s rates) from our Nostro account.” A Nostro account is an account that a bank holds in a foreign currency in another bank.All hell should have broken loose. But Tiwari, who insists that he is a “non-technical” person kept his cool. “The thing uppermost in my mind was that I had to quickly get onto the money trail and recover the money.”That was easier said than done. By the time the Union Bank official in the treasury department, who was reconciling the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) payments for the day realized that an amount of $171 million had already been debited from the dollar account of the bank without his authorization, the money had travelled far and wide.The money had found its way to accounts in two banks in Cambodia—the Canadia Bank Plc and RHB IndoChina Bank Ltd, besides the Siam Commercial Bank in Thailand, Bank Sinopac in Taiwan, and a bank in Australia. These funds were routed by Citibank New York and JP Morgan Chase New York, which hold UBI’s foreign exchange accounts.Even as Tiwari informed the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), the ministry of external affairs and Gulshan Rai, director general of the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In), to apprise them of the matter and take advice, he simultaneously sent a terse message instructing all the staff at Union Bank Bhavan that “a whole floor on that building was to be cordoned off, and that all staff members working to solve this problem would only leave after the matter was resolved”.

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