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Malta's Bank of Valletta (BOV) last week shut down all Internet access, including branches and cashpoints, after detecting a cyber intrusion by criminals who tried to steal EUR13 million.

The cyber attack involved the creation of false international payments totaling $14.7 million to banks in Britain, the United States, the Czech Republic and Hong Kong. The bank is taking steps to reverse the fraudulent transactions and repatriate the funds.

BOV was made aware of the fraud by state security services on Wednesday last week, immediately shutting down all operations as it tried to track down the source.

The bank defended the drastic shutdown as an "appropriate" measure to safeguard the bank and its stakeholders.

Normal service was resumed Thursday morning with the exception of cross-border payments. Payments in and out of the European Union were back online by Friday, but international transactions beyond the eurozone remain under lockdown.

"BOV is working relentlessly to restore its full payment services as soon as possible," the bank says in a statement. "The Bank would like to assure its clients that customer accounts and their funds are in no way impacted or compromised and that the Bank is working relentlessly to resolve the issue. The Bank is working closely with local and international police authorities in this regard."

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