NAB blocked over 41,000 attempts by attackers to take data either from NAB itself or from its customers in the first quarter of this year.
Group CEO and managing director Ross McEwan told a parliamentary inquiry on Friday last week that the bank had been subjected to “ferocious attacks”, with unsuccessful attempts running into the hundreds of millions in a three-month period.
“In the first quarter of this year, NAB blocked 197 million cyber threats and in the second quarter, 261 million attacks, so these are massive numbers trying to attack a bank,” McEwan said.
“We also blocked, in the first quarter, just over 41,000 attempts at taking data. These are ferocious attacks on us as an institution, just as they will be on any other firm, I suspect, that holds customer data for payments.”
McEwan said the attempts comprised “both people attacking the bank to get customers' details but also fraudulent activity against a customer, to get them to hand over details so that they can take money out of their accounts”.
“We've seen attacks both on us as a bank and our subsidiaries, trying to slow down the bank and get into our systems, which to date they haven't been able to take the data out of,” he said.
“It's vital that we remain a safe and stable institution that people can't get at.
“We're determined to make sure that people don't break into this bank and get data.”
The bank had seen a significant “uplift” in attacks over the past year, including a 78 percent rise in fraud attempts in May and June of this year.
Group chief risk officer Shaun Dooley noted it was not just NAB being targeted; banks around the world have been targeted by cyber attacks this year.
“We've not only seen attempts on our customers; we've also seen attempts on various financial institutions right around the world,” Dooley said.
“We invest heavily in our cyber security. We employ hundreds of people and spend a lot of money every year not only to protect ourselves but also to protect our customers in terms of fraud, and that investment continues to increase.”