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Cyber attack on Malta bank tried to transfer money abroad

VALLETTA (Reuters) – Bank of Valletta, which accounts for almost half of Malta’s banking transactions, had shut down all operations on Wednesday after hackers broke into its systems and / or shifted funds abroad.

FILE PHOTO: Malta prime Minister Joseph Muscat at his office in Valletta, Malta 9 January 2019. REUTERS/Darrin Zammit Lupi/File Photo

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat told parliament the cyber attack involved in the creation of false international payments of a total of 13 million euro ($14.7 million) to banks in great Britain, the United States, the Czech Republic and Hong Kong.

The funds are traced and the Bank of Valletta is looking at the fraudulent transactions reversed.

Muscat said that the attack was discovered quickly after the start of the company on Wednesday that there are discrepancies noticed during the reconciliation of international transactions.

Shortly after the bank was informed of the state of security of the services that they had received information from abroad that the company had been the victim of a cyber attack.

To minimize risk, and revision of the systems, the Bank of Valletta suspended operations, shuttering its branches to the Mediterranean island, the closing of Atms and the deactivation of the website.

Muscat said that a leading financial institution had gone offline had an impact on the economy and caused problems in the foreign country for credit card holders who are required to make payments, such as hotels.

Alternative arrangements have been made with the credit card companies to help those affected.

Muscat said the Bank of Valletta was also considering how to proceed with the activities gradually to ensure that such an attack can not be repeated. He told the lawmakers that depositors’ funds had not been touched.

“The money came not from people (accounts) and the amounts are reduced,” he said.

The bank previously told customers that their accounts and funds were “in no way influenced or affected” and that was the work to resume normal services.

The bank is also conducting an internal review to determine where exactly the attack originated and how it was initiated.

Maltese banks have in the past reported cyber attacks, but this was the first time a lender had to shut down all operations as a result.

Reporting by Chris scicluna worked; Editing by Crispian Balmer and Jane Merriman

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