The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry on Sunday said that it had predicted a bank fraud similar to the current crisis in which 32 lakh debit cards have been compromised. A study by the industry body had said India was a “favourite hunting ground for global hackers and criminals".

“The card frauds…were waiting to happen,” Assocham said in a statement accessed by IANS. “India has been on the radar of the global cyber criminals who hack into the computer servers using malware.” The study was conducted in partnership with Mahindra SSG. In it, researchers had claimed India was the third biggest target for such cyber attacks, behind the United States and Japan.

Assocham’s Secretary General DS Rawat said they have been “continuously sensitising the government, RBI and the banks against the unfolding cyber risks.” The study said cyber attacks targeting India came from countries all over the world, including the US, Brazil, Europe, Algeria and parts of West Asia. Losses amounted to up to $4 billion (about Rs 24,630 crore) in 2013.

Banks across the country, including the State Bank of India, are facing a massive security breach, with cards belonging to customers from 19 different institutions being swiped without their knowledge. Experts said it was a malware attack, and 32 lakh users have been asked to get replacement debit cards. On Friday, the Centre said it would take action against the perpetrators and that there was no need to panic.