Wednesday, October 4

China Made ATM Machines and Software Affected 6 Lakh SBI Debit Cards

India’s largest public sector bank State Bank of India (SBI) and its subsidiary blocked 6.25 lakh customers debit cards after finding security breach in transactions at third-party ATM machines.

The government led bank sent emails and SMS to customers, to alert them about blockage, and also asked them to re-apply for new cards at their respective branches.

“About 0.25% of our cards have been blocked. We came to know that some of our customers have used SBI debit cards at Yes Bank ATM machines, the software of these ATM’s were designed in Chinese company Hitachi payment services,” said SBI’s security officer at the condition of no identity disclose.

“In the past 3-4 days, we saw some unidentified and suspicious transactions at some ATMs and hence the cards were blocked immediately. The cards have been blocked across many circles”.

SBI customers appear not to be the only victims of this ATM scam. “The damage has been done to many other bank debit cards, including foreign and private banks. This happened a month ago and we saw some data of customers being compromised. With such large number of cards involved, we thought it was better to replace the cards entirely. Largely the cards were magnetic-based,” said an SBI general manager handling the cards portfolio.

The precautionary measures were taken by SBI in response to an advisory message by card network companies NPCI, MasterCard and Visa, wherein various banks in India were informed about a potential risk to some cards owing to a data breach.

“We’d like to emphasise that SBI’s systems have absolutely not been compromised and existing cardholders are not at any risk and can continue to use their cards. SBI is in the process of issuing new cards at no cost to those card holders whose cards have been blocked,” an SBI spokesperson said.

The total number of debit cards issued by the SBI alone till July-end was 20.27 crore. Of those, 0.25% or about 5.07 lakh cards have been blocked. Including those from SBI’s subsidiary banks — State Bank of Mysore, State Bank of Hyderabad, State Bank of Bikaner and Jaipur, State Bank of Travancore and State Bank of Patiala — about 25 crore debit cards were issued.