Financial Services Industry at Cybersecurity Precipice? – SWIFT’s Perez-Tasso

Given the recent publicity of cyberattacks, many industry experts see a need to fortify security for venues and banks.

The financial services industry is built on a pillar of confidence that transactions are secure and not particularly vulnerable to any sort of hacking or theft. However, when stripped of that confidence, many venues, banking entities, financial service providers, and most importantly, market participants, start to exercise fear or doubts as to the security of their funds.

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Less than a few months after an attempted $1 billion heist that resulted in the theft of $81 million from the central bank of Bangladesh, industry officials and central banking entities are still doing damage control and due diligence in a bid to prevent the next big hack.

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To recap, hackers were able to make off with over $81 million in May from the Bangladesh central bank, consequently rerouting it to banks in the Philippines. These funds have yet to be recovered. Compounding this issue were reports that began circulating after the heist that placed the blame strictly on SWIFT’s shoulders, after its technicians reportedly left Bangladesh Bank’s systems vulnerable after what was a routine update. The reports and investigation also found that the errors could potentially have placed many other banks at risk.

Since then, investigations have expanded to include twelve other banks to make sure that their systems were not compromised. In light of the attention trained in on not only SWIFT but the security of the financial services industry, the group’s Chief Executive – Americas and UK, Javier Perez-Tasso, warned that the industry itself faces a potentially defining moment in the fight for cybersecurity.

The comments came from the recent Payments Panorama conference in Calgary in which Perez-Tasso made sure to emphasize that SWIFT’s global payments network was not breached or compromised. However, he made sure to reiterate the resolve that was needed on the part of the industry to help beef up security measures for all participants in light of heightened threats.

While ultimately short on specifics, SWIFT has already rolled out a communiqué that outlined steps that other groups should take to make sure their systems are as resistant to cyber attacks as possible. Expect a greater emphasis on security in the coming months, especially if any discernable trend, pattern, or vulnerability is unearthed in the ongoing investigations into the SWIFT attack.

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