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New data from the US Federal Reserve has shown that dozens of cybersecurity breaches have been recorded between 2011 and 2015. Several of these incidents have been described as espionage, showing that it’s not only criminals that pose a risk, but also foreign spies. It shows that even major organisations are open to breaches, and all companies, regardless of their size, must take actions to protect themselves.
With the Federal Reserve’s records being available through the Freedom of Information Act, it was discovered that, though records are heavily redacted, the attacks on major banking systems is an extremely important issue. The information doesn’t reveal which banks were hacked, or whether criminals stole money or accessed sensitive data. However, it’s clearly shown that the central bank suspects spies and hackers for many of the incidents.
Having reviewed 50 of the files obtained by Reuters, cybersecurity expert James Lewis said: “Hacking is a major threat to the stability of the financial system. This data shows why.”
Espionage is one concern for many nations, with foreign governments standing to gain a lot of insights into their neighbours and enemies if central banking information can be gathered. For example, both Russia and China are huge players in the federal debt market, estimated to be worth $13.8 trillion. The Federal Reserve plays a major part in determining interest rates. Former White House cybersecurity advisor Ari Schwartz said: “Obviously that makes it a very clear (hacking) target for other nation states.” It was only in March that prosecutors from the US accused hackers normally associated with the government in Iran of coordinating cyber-attacks on many American banks.
The Reuters records examined also suggested that spying might also be conducted by private companies. Individuals, such as British activist Lauri Love, might also be behind some of the attacks, though no names are actually mentioned.
The records clearly show that the Federal Reserve is aware of numerous attacks against it, and that cybersecurity is becoming increasingly important if both private and public bodies want to protect themselves. Currently, the US makes use of the National Incident Response Team (Nirt), the organisation that created 263 of the reports seen by Reuters.
With many attacks being experienced by the Federal Reserve, it goes to show how important cybersecurity is. Safeguarding company data must be a high priority for all organisations if they want to reduce the potential damage done by a future breach.