Taiwan premier orders probe into hacking of Far Eastern International Bank

Most of the missing US$500,000 likely to be recovered

Premier William Lai.

Premier William Lai. (By Central News Agency)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – After an attempt was made to hack into the Far Eastern International Bank (遠東商銀) system to steal money, Premier William Lai (賴清德) said Saturday that the authorities needed to take a closer look at information security and design appropriate measures to deal with future cases.

A hacker put a virus into the bank’s computer system and tried to remove less than US$500,000 (NT$15,000), but he was found out early so losses to the bank might be reduced to nil, bank officials said Saturday, according to a report by the Central News Agency.

A Cabinet spokesman accompanying Lai on a visit to Penghu said the hacker had be tracked and part of the money had already been returned, so if the action was quick enough, most of the missing funds could be recovered.

In such cases, all the responsibility would be shouldered by the bank, and the rights of savers and consumers should not be affected, according to statements by the Financial Supervisory Commission.

The government referred to last year’s spectacular First Bank hack, when a group of about twenty East Europeans managed to withdraw more than NT$80 million in cash from automated teller machines across Taiwan. Most of the money was later recovered, though only three members of the gang were arrested and sentenced to prison.

The resolution of the First Bank case showed that Taiwan was ready and able to tackle similar hacking cases in the future, though banks should always be on their guard, officials said.