SBI blocks 6 lakh debit cards after security breach at ATM

State Bank of India (SBI), India's largest lender, has blocked six lakh debit cards following a security breach that occurred in a non-SBI ATM network. The bank will replace these with new ones, says a The Times of India report. The breach has happened due to a malware that can capture sensitive information to enable financial fraud.

Shiv Kumar Bhasin, SBI's chief technology officer, told ToI that customers shouldn't panic. They can approach their branch, use phone banking, use the internet for 're-carding', or  set their PIN using internet banking.

The replacement exercise is the biggest yet in the Indian banking sector, says the ToI report.

SBI has informed its branches of the breach and the cards being blocked, said Bhasin.

According to Bhasin, many other banks are also facing such a situation and have been urging their customers to change their PINs for a long time now.

In the wake of several cases of ATM frauds where customers' PINs have been hacked and money siphoned off by fraudsters, banks have issued text messages and sent mails to their customers urging them to change their ATM pin or sent them new ATM pins.

As on July 2016, there were 20.27 crore active debit cards from SBI, according to the Reserve Bank of India website, while SBI's associate banks had a total of 4.75 crore active debit cards. Around 0.25 per cent of the cards have been blocked due to the malware.

High-tech ATM frauds have been rising of late. Recently PTI reported that a woman customer had complained of Rs55,000 being siphoned off from her account from abroad. The woman, an account holder with State Bank of Travancore's Pattom branch in Kerala, said in her complaint to police that the money was withdrawn twice on 3 and 5 September.

Police said the cash had been withdrawn from a foreign country from an ATM counter, but did not elaborate.

The heist comes less than a month after some persons lost their money in an ATM theft involving some foreigners, including Romanians.

On 10 August, a Romanian national, who along with two other foreigners was suspected to be involved in the hi-tech ATM fraud in which a number of people lost money, was arrested in Mumbai.

Police suspected an electronic device at the ATM counter had enabled the fraudsters collect the secret pin code and card details.

Most banks have sent warning messages to their customers asking them to change their passwords.