Sunday, May 4, 2014
New software designed to help curb theft on ATM machines.
The rate at which theft of bank customers’ money through Automated Teller Machines (ATM) is increasing with the perpetrators skipping without being apprehended in various banks in the country may become a dream of the past, the Guardian can report. This is after the discovery of a new software program known as ‘Inta Fedha’ which has been designed by a Tanzanian ICT expert and professional programmer, Arthur Assenga in October 2013. The software which has been given permanent registration by the Ministry of Trade and Industry though Copyright Society of Tanzania (COSOTA) in late February this year, has designed for cyber crime with a registration number CST/APP/REG/WORKS/VOL XX. 744 Cosota. Speaking in an exclusive interview on Wednesday this week, Assenga who is also the Director of a Dar es Salaam based Tullo ICT Computer Engineering Ltd, said that his software is currently undergoing technological test. According to him, once proved to be workable, would be sold to banks in the country to curb cyber crime which has become unavoidable phenomenon for lack of modern technology The software to be made workable soon in various banks’ teller machines once approved has been designed to operate in computer systems in three different options with as view to net culprits who tampers with the bank customers’ account. He noted that, among the most developing concept features about his software is that, it has been designed to reveal the presence of people by taking their images in form of pictures once they approach ATM machines with intent to withdraw money. The software is also designed in various ways to prevent people from accessing customers’ bank accounts to which are not specifically registered or recognized by the bank. He noted also that, the software has been designed to facilitate the work of withdrawals and sending of money with ease through internet to far a distant area more safely. Elaborating more about the software, Assenga noted that, he saw the need to work on the programme after having realized most banks are not trustworthy in their operations following many claims by their customers whose money gets lost through their accounts without clarification when they need. Elaborating more about the software and how it is made to work, Assenga noted that, this is designed to detect finger prints and that all customers of the bank would have to register afresh with their bank accounts. He said the registered customers will not be able to give their relatives their smart cards and pin numbers the way they have used now, as this would detect the second party as the system in the banks would not recognize him/her. He said, there will be three signals alarm raised at the ATM machine to inform a customer attending the ATM service, and who shall not have been registered by the system to vacate the area otherwise the machine would detect the presence of a thief around. He added that, not only that, it would also take some photos of the image of a person around and restore for proof incase anything happens while someone is still at the ATM machines. For the last four years, there has been a series of theft which has been taking place in various banks through ATM machines and the culprits have been walking freely out without being detected or nabbed by the banks’ security people. Cyber crime started in March 2010 when Sh. 300 billion was reported reported to have disappeared in a mysterious condition in ATM machines associated with the National Bank of Commerce (NBC). After reporting of such theft the biggest ever in the country through ATM machines for people were arrested in connection with the theft, two years later, it’s estimated that Sh. 700 million were stolen from the National Micro-Finance Bank (NMB) at different times in the country. Police in Mwanza region managed to apprehend four people in connection with such loss of money from the bank who were caught preparing to steal money from the ATM machines at the NMB bank branch located at PPF Plaza building at 12:00 midnight. The arrest followed a trap set to get hold of them following a tip from a good Samaritan who informed the police of such theft, and police laid a trap acted swiftly and managed to net them on the spot together with some tools used to do their mischief. Meanwhile, the Bank of Tanzania (BoT) has teamed up with four other specialised agencies to get at the source of cyber crimes which have so far eluded police and financial intelligence. In September 2013, BoT Director for National Payment Systems Lucy Kinunda was quoted by this paper as saying that, the joint high level task force has drawn expertise from the Central Bank itself, Tanzania Bankers Association (TBA), Tanzania Communication Regulatory Authority (TCRA), Financial Intelligence Unit and Cyber Crime Unit in the office of the Director of Criminal Investigation. In the meantime, she said, BoT had since directed all commercial banks to enhance their risk management processes and ensure that dishonest staff are prosecuted as well as ensure strict vetting of staff done frequently, among other things. The Central Bank has also directed the commercial banks to carry out awareness programmes on the safe use of ATMs, including careful and handling of sensitive details such as Personal Identification Number (PIN) to protect their accounts against unauthorized access. Police reports state that in the past few years a total of Sh1.3 billion; $551,777 and Euro 8,897 had been stolen across the country through different forms of cyber trickery. ATM theft commonly known as “card skimming” has now become a critical problem across the country, notably the city of Dar es Salaam – where the burden of refunds is weighing down man banks. Meanwhile absence of legislation to address cyber crime in Tanzania is a factor causing difficulties to prosecute criminal cases of recent thefts in some ATMs. Adam Mambi, an ICT specialist, told this paper in Dar es Salaam in November last year that, the country needs policy and legislation to define and provide a framework for operation and enforcement of legally accepted cyber activities.