By Anirudh Jain
Hacking computers, syphoning money and a Pro Kabbadi Player, no this is not the plot of a movie but an actual scam that was carried out by 13 people against State Bank of India (SBI). They got a loan of 32.9 million rupees in the form of a car loan but they “misused” the money to produce a Tamil film.
The modus operandi
D.Chitra, a registered auto loan counsellor with the bank processed the paperwork for these applicants. All the relevant documents including KYC (Know Your Customer) were submitted to the lender, however, the documents were of dubious nature.
Bank officials in a statement said that Chitra gained the confidence of some of the officials and learnt about the loan sanction and disbursement norms. She subsequently had access to one of the operating systems by hacking the user id and password of the bank official. Through this, she transferred the money to the accounts of the borrowers instead of crediting it to the account of the car dealerships. The bank disbursed loans of 19 lakhs to 9 people, 52 lakhs to 2 people, and 54.71 lakhs and 15 lakhs to one person each. The loan received by each of these 13 applicants was ultimately diverted to the account of V Essakkiaraja who is the producer of “Aruva Sandai” under the banner of White Screen Productions.
How the thieves were caught
While doing routine checks at SBI’s Velachery branch, the branch manager noticed certain abnormalities regarding the load disbursed by Chitra. On further verification, it was revealed that Chitra had hacked the URL of the loan generating software. The branch manager reported this to the higher authorities for further action.
Though the High Court directed the police to register a case against the 13-people including the producer, failure to do so resulted in the bank filing a civil suit. In the suit, the bank sought an interjection from releasing the movie. The PSU also declared that they wanted the “first charge” from all sale proceeds of DVD, satellite and movie rights. Justice CV Karthikeyan has granted an interim injunction restraining the release of the movie till 16 March. Notices returnable have been ordered to the 13 accused and D Chitra.
Questions on cybersecurity
“Cybersecurity is a cause of concern to every financial company and bankers are facing great difficulty in ensuring it,” State Bank of India MD, Risk, IT and Subsidiaries, Dinesh Kumar Khara said on 8 November 2017, at FICCI-Indian Banks’ Association (IBA) Annual Banking Conference (FIBAC), 2017.
There are various reasons for the lag in cybersecurity. One being RBI Guidelines, the younger customers have a different view of privacy and customer perceptions keep on changing. This makes it difficult for the RBI to stay ahead of the curve and ensure standardized guidelines for the same. Second, slow upgrade cycles will give rise to exploitation as vulnerabilities in the software will be exposed. Banks need a massive overhaul of their network architecture and more robust security measures should be proposed and implemented by both RBI and the banks. However, immediate emphasis should be placed on training and simulations so that in cases if the bank is not able to prevent an attack, the employees should be well prepared to react in the time of emergency.
Featured Image Source: Visual Hunt
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