Top Banner

Financial institutions strengthen security systems after global cyber attack

A number of financial institutions all over the world have taken steps to strengthen their own security systems after infrastructure following the global cyber-attack which affected a number of organizations worldwide.

Hackers utilizing spying tools believed to have been developed by the U.S. National Security Agency initiated the 'ransomware' attack last Friday causing huge disruption on a global basis. It has been reported that tens of thousands of computers were infected in 104 countries - which has inevitably put the financial sector on high alert.

The 'ransomware' attack halted the production lines of a leading European-based car manufacturer - whilst the UK's National Health Service was also breached which subsequently forced the cancellation of a number of surgical operations and prevented cancer patients from receiving treatment.

It has been disclosed that many suspected infections were of Russian computers - the country's central bank confirmed that it recorded harmful software being sent to Russian banks but that the attacks had been unsuccessful. However, the country's biggest financial institutions are nonetheless on 'high alert' as fears over another attack still exist.

Russia is particularly vulnerable to attacks because many organizations are using outdated technology as a result of a downturn in the economy which has inevitably squeezed spending. Banks all across Europe have also taken preventative measures in an effort to stop any future attacks.

Keith Gross, who chairs the European Banking Federation's cybersecurity working group, claimed that banks were setting-up back-up systems for data and planned to introduce security upgrades. Gross said, "The banks' greatest fear is copycat attacks. So they are updating like a wild thing."

Germany's savings banks which are both the largest and most powerful in the country had received reminders from the organization's information technology company to install updates. A leading British financial institution confirmed that they had drafted in personnel over the weekend having been the subject of a similar attack earlier in the year. In addition to this a European investment bank said it was accelerating the process of 'patching' software following the incident.

But aging technology and banks' attractiveness to hackers means they are often targets. Last year 2.5 million pounds ($3.23 million) was taken from small British lender Tesco Bank. The identity of the culprits remains unknown.

Other UK banks including HSBC and Royal Bank of Scotland have suffered cyber-attacks in the past two years that have brought their online services down. A survey of cyber security and risk experts released last Friday by insurer AIG found the financial services industry had been identified as the most likely to experience a systemic attack.