Defensor Anakalusugan Rep. Mike Defensor

Defensor seeks swift arrest of bank hackers, raises questions

December 26, 2021 Ryan Ponce Pacpaco 398 views

WAS the recent hacking of a bank’s computer system a one-off or a dry run? Were the culprits acting on their own, or were they sponsored by a bigger threat actor?

These were the questions raised by Anakalusugan party-list Rep. Mike Defensor Sunday, as he underscored the need for the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to swiftly arrest the felons behind the hacking of more than 700 deposit accounts with the country’s largest bank by total assets.

“Until and unless the suspects are apprehended and interrogated in custody, we may never know their real motives, aside from the cybertheft of a few million pesos,” Defensor said.

“Assuming the suspects are planning further attacks elsewhere, then their capture should effectively thwart them,” said Defensor, who is running for Quezon City mayor.

“We must also stress that the certainty of getting caught and punished is our best deterrence to other would-be threat actors in cyberspace,” Defensor said.

The authorities should not discount the possibility that the hackers were merely out to stage a “rehearsal” ahead of potentially bigger attacks against other financial institutions, according to Defensor.

“What is clear is that the hackers succeeded in breaching the defenses of a bank’s computer system, and they now have an idea as to how much time they need to break in and escape with the loot before they are discovered,” Defensor said.

Union Bank of the Philippines (UBP) earlier said it has identified at least six persons suspected of involvement in the hacking of the BDO Unibank Inc. accounts.

The hacking was exposed after frantic BDO depositors used social media to report unauthorized Instapay transfers out of their accounts.

The stolen funds were later found to have been routed to the fictitious account of a certain “Mark Nagoyo” with UBP, and subsequently salted away in virtual currencies.

Defensor previously said that under the law, the hackers are bound to face the criminal charge of economic sabotage and life imprisonment, on top of paying restitution to victims and a fine of up to P5 million.

BDO has since voluntarily reimbursed depositors affected by the fraud. The bank has also assured clients that it has already put into effect additional security measures to block unauthorized transactions and to protect credentials.