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Hackers attempted to steal around €13 million from Bank of Valletta in Malta


Malta's oldest and one of the largest banks, Bank of Valletta (i.e. BOV), resumed its operations on February 14, 2019, after it completely shut down all their IT systems on February 13, 2019. The IT systems were shut down when the hackers attempted to steal around €13 million (or $14.7 million) from the bank's reserves.


The hackers' intrusion was discovered by the employees of BOV during their regular everyday reconciliation operations of the international transfers. Around 30 minutes after Bank of Valletta found the unauthorized operations - BOV closed all their branches, shut down their ATM and PoS (point-of-sale) systems, as well as their e-banking servers and website.


As reported by Times of Malta, "all of the bank's functions - branches, ATMs, mobile banking and even email services - were suspended and its website taken offline".


Joseph Muscat, the Prime Minister of Malta, told the parliament that the hacking attack has been detected soon after start of the business on February 13, 2019, and the hackers who are involved are believed to be from the overseas. As per the local press, these hackers attempted to transfer an amount of €13 million to various bank accounts in US, UK, Honk Kong, and Czech Republic.


As per a statement on their website, the Bank of Valletta said that they are working with both international and local police authorities so that it can track the attackers. The operations of the bank were returned to normal on February 14, 2019, as per a subsequent statement.


The government officials of Malta paid very close attention to operations of the bank on February 14, 2019, as the hack has crippled the economy of this small island, forcing many citizens and tourists to transact only through cash. The government of Malta is also one of the clients of BOV, whose services the government use for making the social security payments.


"Bank of Valletta apologises to its clients for any inconvenience caused and will be keeping its customers and the general public informed of developments," said the bank in a statement as reported by Times of Malta. It also added that the customers' funds "are in no way impacted or compromised" by this breach.


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