Hackers try to steal a bank in Malta; security operation shutdown is implemented

All the services of the Bank of Valletta have been interrupted

The Bank of Valletta, Malta, shut down all of its operations and communications, including the closure of its ATMs and branches, after detecting a cyberattack in which a group of hackers tried to steal more than €13M, reported network security specialists from the International Institute of Cyber Security.

According to local media, all bank services, including branches, ATMs and mobile banking have been suspended, and the bank’s website is offline.

In a statement picked up by various sources, Joseph Muscat, Prime Minister of Malta, stated that the attack was detected by the networks security teams on Bank of Valletta on Thursday morning. The Prime Minister points out that the attack originated outside Maltese territory and that the attackers tried to transfer more than €13M to various banks located in the United States, the United Kingdom and Hong Kong. 

The bank’s website has not yet been rehabilitated; and even domain name servers appear to have been deleted, mentioned the network security specialists.

“The Bank of Valletta deeply regrets any inconvenience this might cause to our clients; we will keep the general public informed about any new information”, is read in the bank statement. The institution added that customer data has not been compromised during the incident.

This unprecedented security measure stopped any payment processing system from the bank, including payments made through retail outlets, whose infrastructure is based on the Bank of Valletta’s systems. According to the information retaken from some stores, the closing of operations of the bank began around 13:00, Malta time.

This kind of attack on banking institutions has become very common. One of the most relevant cases was the robbery at Far Eastern International Bank in 2017, where hackers stole about $60M USD after compromising bank networks. On the other hand, groups of hackers allegedly sponsored by the North Korean government were accused of stealing around $12M USD from Cosmo Bank in India after compromising their ATM network.

As a curious fact, the Bank of Valletta was commemorating its Secure Internet Day just a couple of days ago. It hasn’t been three full days of that date and there doesn’t even seem to be any online activity records from the bank.