MTN: Breach on Mobile Money aggregator platform in Uganda did not affect customers

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MTN Uganda has come out and said that the recent security breach on the platform of its partner aggregator, Pegasus Technologies did not affect the mobile money balances of its customers. 

A statement from MTN Uganda, copied to Techgh24 indicated that the October 3 security breach at Pegasus Technologies impacted Bank to Wallet transfers leading to the suspension of selected mobile money services aggregated or integrated through third parties.

Earlier reports indicated that the breach, which Techgh24 gathered, was caused by some persons tampering with security codes with criminal intent at Pegasus Technologies’ end of the system, led to the loss of billions of shillings to MTN, Airtel, Stanbic Bank and other financial institutions in the ecosystem.

But the statement from MTN read inter alia that “Although the incident did not affect any customer’s mobile money balance, a limited number of services aggregated through the third-party provider were suspended as a precautionary and safety measure.”

It however stated that the core MTN Mobile Money services, namely cash deposits, withdrawals, person to person (P2P) transactions and MoMo payments were “never” affected nor compromised at any stage.

Meanwhile, according to the statement, the Ugandan Police Force are leading investigations into the matter to identify the root cause of the incident.

“We are confident the Ugandan Police Force will conclude their investigations timeously and take appropriate actions against the culprits.

MTN assured it customers that its Mobile Money platform remains robust, safe and secure because it complies with the highest international ICT security standards and is subject to regular assessments and reviews by the internal and external assurance providers..

Meanwhile, ahead of the official statement, a top executive of MTN Group explained to Techgh24 that what happened was not a hack, as reported earlier, but a fraud which did not take the entire system down.

The source explained that “When a system is hacked, it means there is a script dispatched to override its functioning and the only to mitigate the impact is to take it down to avoid higher exposure to the business, but that was not what happened in this case.

“Our platform is built by Ericsson and has never been compromised – adequate information and cybersecurity protocols are in place to minimize the risk.”

Ghana

General Manager of MTN Mobile Money in Ghana, Eli Hini

Meanwhile, in Ghana, MTN is in the process of setting up a US$2.5 million artificial intelligence system that will be able to predict fraudulent transactions and therefore protect customers from falling victim to fraudster by given them early warnings before they close a suspicious transaction.

The company has said time without number that its Mobile Money platform is robust and has never been infiltrated before, but fraudster keep targeting customers who become victims out of their own curiosity.

It has therefore been educating customers regularly on how to identified fraudsters and avoid and or report them to the police.

Recently, MTN was able to provide information to the police, which led to the tracing and arrest of over 40 fraudsters, who are either standing trial or are being processed for court.

Some industry players have downplayed MTN’s investment into robotics to fight MoMo fraud as feasible, given the volatile and dynamic nature of the “social engineering” tactics used by fraudsters.

But MTN Ghana remains confident that its Mobile Money platform is fraud-proof, and the investment into robotics will go a long way to protect customers, rather than the platform itself from criminals.

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