Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large
Fraudsters stole US$45 million from RAKBank and BankMuscat in one of the Middle East's biggest cyberheists.
Fraudsters  stole US$45 million from RAKBank and BankMuscat in one of the Middle East's biggest cyberheists.

RakBank comes under fire from customers over cyber attack

One of the biggest names in UAE consumer banking said it lost Dh17.4m as a result of one of the biggest cyber heists to hit Middle East.

RAKBank has come under fire from customers who say they were kept in the dark over millions of dollars of losses from a cyber attack in the US.

The bank, one of the biggest names in UAE consumer banking, said this weekend it had lost Dh17.4 million as the result of one of the biggest ever cyberheists ever to hit the Middle East.

It was the first time the bank had publicly acknowledged the attack, which took place on December 22, and which was revealed by US authorities after they arrested seven people linked to the attack.

By contrast, BankMuscat, which lost $39m in a related incident in February, disclosed the news publicly within a few days.

One bank customer, who identified himself as Marjan, told The National that they planned to end their relationship with the bank after the incident. RAKBank "needs to give much more transparent answers", he said.

RAKBank declined to comment, but has spent much of this week responding to criticisms via Twitter, reiterating that no customer has suffered any loss of funds as a result of the attack.

Disclosing cyber attacks to the public more quickly in future will help the industry identify vulnerabilities and insulate itself against future attacks, industry analysts said.

Banks had many reasons to worry about their reputation when hit by cyber attacks, but also must weigh the costs of scaring bank customers, said Neil Fernandes, head of country risk management for the Middle East, North Africa, India and South Asia at Visa.

But declaring cyber-attacks publicly would help the industry better assess threats, said Johnny Karam, regional managing director of Symantec.

"Some countries have to declare a data breach if it happens, in the US and Europe, but this is not the case across the world," he said. "Things that have gone public, most of the time was because the companies couldn't hide it. There is a big gap between what we see as high profile and what is actually happening."

What in the past might have gone no higher in a company's hierarchy than a chief information officer was now being brought up at board level because of the potential ramifications across a company's operations, Mr Karam added.

"As a company, when you're attacked and breached, having to report it is one story, having to deal with it is another story. It affects the reputation, customer trust and stock price," he said.

"Declaring it will raise awareness and raising awareness definitely helps companies to take security more seriously."

Meanwhile, other card providers in the Emirates said they had reviewed their security procedures after the attacks on RAKBank.

UAE Exchange, the currency exchange house, said its services on gocash, a prepaid travel card, had not been affected by the cyber attacks and has reviewed its security procedures.

The gocash cards are processed by ElectraCard, an Indian card processing firm used by RAKBank that was broken into during the cyberattack.

ElectraCard alerted the incident during last week of December 2012, a spokesman from UAE Exchange said.

"Our technology team has immediately reviewed all our IT security procedures relevant for the gocash card transactions," the company said in a statement. "All is in place and fine."

The company said it would continue to work with ElectraCard.

business@thenational.ae

Back to the top

More articles


Editor's Picks

 The Greens, villas: Q1 no change. 3BR - Dh210-250,000. 4BR - Dh210-260,000. 5BR - Dh220-300,000. Q1 2013-Q1 2014 5% rise. Pawan Singh / The National

In pictures: Where Dubai rents have risen and fallen, Q1 2014

Find out how rental prices in the prime locations in Dubai have altered during the first three months of the year and the current rates you will pay according to data provided by Asteco.

 An air traffic control tower is seen at the central terminal of LaGuardia Airport on April 8, 2014. Shannon Stapleton / Reuters

In pictures: New York’s LaGuardia Airport in need of a rebuild

With constraints on its resources and no appetite for further debt, private investors and developers are being tapped to rebuild the 50-year-old central terminal for $3.6 billion, instead of using traditional public finance methods.

 The bridge of Seajacks Hydra, as the wind farm installation vessel undergoes finishing touches and testing works at Lamprell’s Hamriyah facility in Sharjah before its planned delivery on June 2, 2014. Jeffrey E Biteng / The National

In pictures: Building the Seajacks Hydra

The Seajacks Hydra, a wind farm installation vessel, is undergoing finishing touches and testing works at Lamprell’s Hamriyah facility in Sharjah before its planned delivery on June 2, 2014.

 The Wind, Energy, Technology and Environment Exhibition takes place from April 14 to April 16. Above, the Dewa showroom during last year’s Wetex. Jaime Puebla / The National

April corporate and economic calendar for the UAE and overseas

From Cityscape to Wetex to stock-market holidays to nations reporting first-quarter GDP figures, here is our helpful calendar of April's business events in the UAE and internationally.

 An Uber taxi driver drives his car through a street in New Delhi, India. Saurabh Das / AP Photo

In pictures: On-demand cab service app Uber targets India

Taxi-hailing smartphone app Uber is making a big push into Asia with the company starting operations in 18 cities in Asia and the South Pacific including Seoul, Shanghai, Bangkok, Hong Kong and five Indian cities in the last year.

 Get the latest information on credit cards, bank accounts and loan products in the UAE. Mark Lennihan / AP Photo

Rates report: Latest on UAE loans, accounts and credit cards

Souqamal.com brings you the latest interest rates on banking products in the UAE.

Events

To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National