Banks fortify defenses as fraud attacks rise

Vivienne Gulla, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 11 2018 09:15 AM | Updated as of Jan 11 2018 10:34 AM

MANILA - Philippine banks are shifting to more secure chip-based cards and are looking at biometrics to increase their defenses as fraudsters step up attacks, an industry group said.

The country's largest lender, BDO Unibank, said this week that there was an "extraordinary rise in fraud attacks towards the entire industry" while Bank of the Philippine Islands raised the alarm over a fake website.

Banks are "on schedule" to meet the BSP's June 30 deadline to shift to chip-based or EMV cards, said Bankers Association of the Philippines Nestor Tan.

“Banks are slowly moving into other forms of authentication. We are seeing banks in other countries and we are looking at piloting here the use of biometrics. We are not yet there. But that’s another step towards protecting consumers,” said Tan.

Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor Nestor Espenilla said the regulator had been issuing security advisories regularly "because the threat is real and persistent."

Some banks use fingerprint authentication for their mobile app-based services. Unionbank's EON gives users the option to log into their accounts through selfies, tapping technology used by the US State Department to catch criminals.

The EMV or the Europay Mastercard Visa is a global standard believed to be more secure compared to the magnetic stripe technology.

The EMV chip in debit and credit cards generates a unique transaction code that makes it difficult to replicate.

Data on magnetic stripes can be stolen through ATMs and used to make unauthorized transactions in what is called a "skimming" attack.

Tan warned the public against "phishing" attacks that use fake websites that trick customers into disclosing their account details.

"Customer education is important. We have to be careful with whom we share our information," he said.