Legislators urge investigation into security breaches at banks

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SEVERAL lawmakers called for an investigation into the digital hacking of bank accounts that resulted in unauthorized online transfers.

Several Banco de Oro customers reported over the weekend that they had lost significant amounts after their accounts were hacked.

Albay Rep. Jose Ma. Clemente “Joey” Salceda said the House of Representatives needs to assess law enforcement’s ability to “detect, detect, investigate and prosecute financial cybercrime” and the security measures banks are taking in the digital banking space.

On Monday, Salceda tabled two resolutions addressing the reported hacking of bank accounts.

Resolution 2406 urges the House Public Accounts Committee and the House Public Order and Security Committee “to hold hearings in support of the legislation on the ability of law enforcement agencies to arrest, detect, investigate and prosecute financial cybercrime” .

Resolution 2407 calls on the House of Representatives Committee on Banks and Financial Intermediaries to “examine the security and user protections that banks and electronic payment providers are putting in place to protect their customers from fraud.”

The Cybercrime Prevention Act (Republic Act 10175) punishes computer fraud.

Bayan Muna legislature has filed a separate order to investigate unauthorized online transfers from Banco de Oro (BDO) accounts to the UnionBank account of a particular “Mark Nagoyo”.

Carlos Isagani Zarate, Ferdinand Gaite and Eufemia Cullamat filed the HR 2405 on Monday, which also instructs the Banking and Financial Intermediaries Committee to investigate the reported fraudulent online bank withdrawals.

Zarate said the victims needed compensation as soon as possible.

“I think it is not enough that there is an assurance specifically from the banking industry or BDO at ibalik to guarantee ang nawalan ng pera (return and reimbursement of lost money) with a reservation vis-à-vis depositors sa butas ng karayom, eh malinaw ang system nila ang na-compromise (with the caveat that depositors have to prove that they did nothing wrong. Even if it is obvious that their system has been hacked, depositors are asked to look through the eyes of the needle) ” , he said.

Senate candidate Neri Colmenares said Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) should investigate the incident to ensure depositors’ hard-earned money is safe.

“BSP Governor Benjamin Diokno should seek an audit of the systems used by banks in the country and set a benchmark for security. As the main regulatory authority, the BSP must mandate financial institutions not to meet the security standards that affect our people’s money, “said Colmenares.

The incident prompted Senator Emmanuel Joel Villanueva to urge banks to tighten cybersecurity measures to prevent digital pickpockets from exploiting workers’ e-wallets and bank accounts.

“If regular employees protect their hard-earned money from pickpockets, banks should also make sure that cybercriminals don’t steal the digital wallets of those who gave them their wages for safekeeping,” said Villanueva, chairman of the Senate Labor Committee.

He called on the government authorities to treat the security breach in BDO “as a cyber attack of the most serious kind on our country”.

“This goes beyond a company. The country’s reputation is at stake. The Philippines cannot be viewed as a porous banking system as such weakness will only tempt cybercriminals to attack us,” said Villanueva.

He added that a quick resolution is needed “because we cannot be seen as the main target of cybercrime, a haven for hackers”.

Any delay, Villanueva said, would destroy public confidence in our banking system, “a relationship based on trust”.

He welcomed BDO’s statement that the interests of the hacking victims would be protected as “reassuring and correct”.


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