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NPC probes possible data breach after GCash glitch

Kristine Daguno-Bersamina - The Freeman
NPC probes possible data breach after GCash glitch
File photo of smartphone showing G-Cash wallet application.
Philstar.com / Jovannie Lambayan

MANILA — The National Privacy Commission (NPC) formally launched an investigation into possible data breach after customers of e-wallet giant GCash suffered unauthorized deductions in their personal accounts on May 8.

The data privacy watchdog said in a statement Friday that it has been closely monitoring the incident to determine if the database of GCash clients has been compromised.

Last Wednesday, NPC sent a Notice to Explain to G-Xchange Inc. (GXI), the company managing GCash, following the reports of unauthorized transactions from user ccounts.

A clarificatory meeting was also held on Friday, which allowed GCash to provide information about its investigations and the measures taken to address the incident.

NPC chair John Henry Naga assured the public that the commission is taking the necessary steps to protect the rights of GCash clients.

"The NPC is committed to safeguard the privacy of all individuals and will continue to provide guidance on how the public can better protect themselves from violations of their data privacy rights, even as these threat actors are also becoming more sophisticated in the pursuit of their criminal design," Naga said.

"The NPC will diligently exercise its powers under the law against any party found to be in violation of the Data Privacy Act," he added.

Gilda Maquilan, GCash vice president for public affairs and corporate communications, earlier pointed to "sophisticated phishing, not hacking" behind the incident.

Maquilan said that the stolen funds were traced to various accounts registered with Asia United Bank and East West Bank. The full amount was then reverted to their GCash virtual wallets.

GCash assured its more than 81 million users that the app remains safe to use.

Meanwhile, mobile wallet and online payment service Maya (formerly known as Paymaya) called on the public to switch allegiances on Saturday as its popular competitor GCash is once again experiencing technical difficulties.

GCash was unavailable on Saturday to the general public just days after multiple users experienced unauthorized deductions in their accounts — temporarily barring netizens' access to their money.

"Ayan na si crash? Not my bank ???? #SwitchToMaya and stay calm and confident with our 99.4% uptime," said Maya in a tweet on Saturday.

Some Twitter users, however, found humor in Maya's post, appreciating the "shade" being thrown by the digital bank.

"Awayan na twoah!" said @MxNoelle in a tweet.

Twitter user @M0RNINGWOODz, on another hand, said the following: "ouu maya provoking a World War III."

Some netizens like @superbraxstar and @chanakngqc were quick to point out flaws within Maya's app, saying that they're not above glitches as well.

"i know ur hot rn but im holding my grudge nung kinain mo 300 pesos ko tas di mo binalik," said @chanakngqc. —  James Relativo (FREEMAN)

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