In the biggest cyber attack on the banking sector of the country, $101 million was stolen from Bangladesh Bank’s account with the New York Federal Reserve on February 4, 2016. Although the transfer of $20 million from the total was successfully blocked, $81 million disappeared into the Philippine casino industry.
In light of the attack, questions have been raised over whether the banking sector of Bangladesh can deal with another cyber assault in the future. Two years since the incident, these questions are yet to be answered.
Speaking to the Dhaka Tribune, a general manager level official of the central bank said it was now well prepared to tackle cyber theft attempts.
“We have been building an integrated system prepared by a joint team of Bangladesh Bank, Buet, and two foreign institutions. The work is in the final stage and it will be installed very soon,” he said.
Echoing the official, other sources at the central bank said that a Tk200 crore project to strengthen its cyber security system was already in the works.
“As a part of the remediation program, the central bank has already bought some sophisticated tools to protect the bank’s system from hackers,” said a Bangladesh Bank official.
He added that the new system would be implemented by June this year, with Bangladesh Bank currently using a three stage payment system when communicating with the New York Federal Reserve in the meantime.
However, a cyber security official, asking to remain anonymous, said: “The central bank is still vulnerable to cyber attacks, as the bank is yet to start using sophisticated tools in the security system. The bank has just improved its software infrastructure.”
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He added that more than 40 companies from the US and Europe had presented their cyber security solutions to Bangladesh Bank after the heist, but the central bank did not opt to take any of them at the time. Until newly acquired tools are installed, the system will remain vulnerable.
In addition, a former governor of the central bank has suggested that the central bank improve both the digital and manual security infrastructure to prevent cyber attacks.