KATHMANDU: At around 1 pm on Saturday, the banking system of Prabhu Bank went offline. IT officers of the bank swung into action as they failed to obtain updates mainly from the ATM system.
Whilst the system was down, transactions of over one million were performed within one minute. Terming the transactions suspicious, bank employees informed the law enforcement agency straight away.
Police first received a complaint from Prabhu Bank and it was followed by similar complaints from other banks.
“Some few months ago, a similar heist occurred in India. We had heightened surveillance for such a possible attack,” Chief of Metropolitan Police Range, Kathmandu SSP Uttamraj Subedi told Khabarhub.
Police on Saturday night became successful to arrest five Chinese nationals as they were stealing money from ATMs after hacking the ATM system and seized over Rs 12 million and over 10,000 USD from their possession.
According to SSP Subedi, hackers launched attacks at different banks and took their systems offline.
“The software that operates ATM system has been taken offline,” he said, “Systems of other banks including Prabhu were hacked.”
Sources at Nepal Rastra Bank (NRB) said that the ATM system of banks using software made by a company has been targeted.
Chinese hackers behind Indian heist in Nepal?
According to SSP Subedi, hackers targeted ATMs in different parts of India and made off with over 800 million rupees some few months ago. But, no arrest has been so far made.
An investigation carried out by the Indian Police and Central Investigation Bureau (CIB) had revealed the involvement of Chinese hackers in the heist.
SSP Subedi believes the same gang might be involved in Nepal.
“It can be speculated that the same gang was involved in Nepal,” he said, “But, we are still in the investigation phase.”
According to him, the arrested hackers were involved in similar banking frauds but it is unclear where and how much money do they made off with.
People’s accounts not stolen: NRB
Meanwhile, the Nepal Rastra Bank (NRB) has said that peoples’ accounts have not been pilfered.
NRB Spokesperson Laxmi Prapanna Niraula said that though some problems have arisen in the ATM system of some of the banks, the money has not been stolen.
According to Niraula, the money that the Chinese hackers withdrew was not from individual bank accounts.