News: CBE reports massive cyber-attack attempts amid internal glitch causing loss of millions of birr

Abe Sano, CEO of the Commercial Bank of Ethiopia (Photo:CBE)

Addis Abeba – The state-owned Commercial Bank of Ethiopia (CBE) said it has been a primary target of entities seeking to attack Ethiopia for economic and political reasons. It reported successfully foiling nearly 28,000 cyber-attack attempts since 2022.

Nonetheless, the bank said the recent incident, which led to customers withdrawing large amounts of cash from the bank’s ATMs and digitally transferring millions, was caused by an internal “system glitch” rather than a cyber-attack.

Early Saturday, customers, mainly university students, were able to withdraw cash while others digitally transferred large sums of money due to the “glitch” caused by a “system upgrade” implemented hours before the incident.

The bank did not disclose the amount of loss it incurred as a result, but indicated that 490,000 transactions, both legal and illegal, were completed during the incident, which lasted from around midnight to dawn.

The bank’s in-person and digital services were inaccessible on Saturday until late afternoon.

Abe Sano, CEO of the Bank, told journalists on Monday that efforts to recoup the lost money are underway, without stating the amount that has been recovered so far. He added that the bank has also started identifying those who transferred large sums of money to hold them criminally accountable.

A local newspaper reported that approximately 2.4 billion birr was withdrawn or transferred to other banks and mobile money platforms.

The bank stated that the root cause of the problem and the total loss it incurred would be communicated upon the completion of an ongoing investigation. AS

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