Putting the brakes on cybercrime

Concerned by the rising number of scams and online financial crimes, Bank Negara is directing the banking industry to undertake tighter security controls

Farik Zolkepli and Ragananthini Vethasalam

Farik Zolkepli and Ragananthini Vethasalam

The Star


September 27, 2022

KUALA LUMPUR – If you notice your online banking transactions taking a little longer in the future, don’t complain. It’s a sign that your bank is trying to protect you from cybercriminals.

Concerned by the rising number of scams and online financial crimes globally and in Malaysia, Bank Negara is directing the banking industry to undertake tighter security controls, its governor Tan Sri Nor Shamsiah Mohd Yunus said.

The level of concern is great enough to bring about a rare high-level meeting between Nor Shamsiah and Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Acryl Sani Abdullah Sani yesterday, when they also launched a virtual Financial Crime Exhibition.

“Bank Negara requires banks in Malaysia to adopt high standards of security, especially for Internet and mobile banking services,” Nor Shamsiah said in her speech at the event.

This will include measures such as migration of SMS one-time-passwords (OTPs) to a more secure form of authentication; further tightening of detection rules and triggers for blocking scam-related transactions; and subjecting first-time enrolment of online banking services and secure devices to a cooling-off period.

Customers will also be restricted to one mobile device or secure device for authenticating online banking transactions, and banks will also be required to set up dedicated scam hotlines.

While the control measures may entail some inconvenience, they are important to protect customers.

“These controls may lead to some friction or inconvenience in the online banking experience of customers.

“For example, online banking transactions might take a little longer to process. Financial institutions will also conduct more checks when customers request to change or register a new phone number,” Nor Shamsiah said.

Fighting crime: Bank Negara Governor Tan Sri Nor Shamsiah Mohd Yunus and Inspector General of Police Tan Sri Acryl Sani Abdullah Sani at the virtual launch of Bank Negara Malaysia Museum and Art Gallery’s ‘Financial Crime: Scan Before You’re Scammed’. — Bank Negara

However, she said, when implementing these measures, Bank Negara and the financial industry will continue to carefully balance between security considerations and customer convenience.

She also said that financial institutions have been directed to be more responsive to scam reports lodged by customers and to facilitate efforts to recover and protect stolen funds, including working with relevant agencies to prevent further losses.

“Bank Negara will also continue to monitor and take appropriate action with financial institutions to ensure that the highest levels of controls and security standards are observed.

“We will also continue to take effective preventive measures against ever-evolving financial scams.”

Together with the financial industry, Bank Negara will continue to ensure that banking and payment channels remain secure and equipped with the latest security controls, she said.

Acknowledging that criminal tactics change all the time, she said that Bank Negara continuously intensifies deterrent efforts and introduces additional controls as well as safeguards and collaborates with other stakeholders to keep ahead of scammers.

These include rolling out preventive measures, pursuing more effective and coordinated enforcement actions, and raising public awareness.

“The effort to eradicate financial scams requires cooperation and concerted action from all parties – not just from Bank Negara and the financial industry, but also from law enforcement agencies and relevant ministries and agencies, as well as the public,” she added.

Bank Negara, together with the police, Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission and National Anti-Financial Crime Centre, will work together to further elevate the Commercial Crime Investigation Department’s Scam Response Centre into a more systematic information-sharing platform that will enable quicker action to prevent further losses.

Nor Shamsiah said the cooperation of law enforcement agencies is key, especially in sharing information and intelligence.

The public also has a role to play in protecting themselves by making sure to be aware of scams.

“An important aspect of dealing with financial scams is raising public awareness about tactics used by criminals and the steps that the public can take to avoid becoming victims.

“In this regard, Bank Negara, the financial industry and law enforcement agencies will continue efforts to enhance the effectiveness of awareness programmes and improve on the dissemination of information to the public,” she said.

The virtual Financial Crime Exhibition launched yesterday is an example of such efforts as it seeks to educate the public about financial scams. It can be viewed at bit.ly/bnm_crime.


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