BoE faces hack­ing threat

The Pak Banker - - FRONT PAGE -

LON­DON: The Bank of Eng­land is fre­quently faced with cy­ber threats as hack­ers probe for vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties in the cen­tral bank's com­puter sys­tems.

The rev­e­la­tion was made in a re­sponse by the UK cen­tral bank to a Free­dom of In­for­ma­tion re­quest by Bloomberg News. The BOE de­clined to re­lease data about the num­ber of times it's been at­tacked and its spend­ing on ex­ter­nal cy­ber-se­cu­rity com­pa­nies, cit­ing an ex­emp­tion from re­quire­ments linked to the preven­tion of crime.

"The bank faces ad­vanced, per­sis­tent and evolv­ing cy­ber threats from a va­ri­ety of sources which call for ex­treme vig­i­lance," it said in a Jan­uary let­ter. On March 3, the In­for­ma­tion Com­mis­sioner's Of­fice, which han­dles Free­dom of In­for­ma­tion ap­peals, said it ac­cepted the bank's rea­sons for not re­leas­ing data and dis­missed Bloomberg's claim. A BoE spokes­woman de­clined to com­ment fur­ther.

UK na­tional in­sti­tu­tions op­er­ate un­der the con­stant threat of hav­ing their sys­tems breached by teenagers, crim­i­nal gangs, ter­ror­ists or for­eign spies. Chan­cel­lor of the Ex­che­quer Ge­orge Os­borne has pledged to dou­ble spend­ing on hack­ing de­fenses and de­velop an of­fen­sive cy­ber ca­pa­bil­ity so the coun­try can carry out its own op­er­a­tions against ter­ror­ists and rogue states.

Within the fi­nan­cial in­dus­try, cy­ber at­tacks have led to mil­lions of cus­tomer records fall­ing into the hands of crim­i­nals, with JPMor­gan Chase & Co. and HSBC Hold­ings Plc both hav­ing their sys­tems breached in 2014.

The BOE has high­lighted such at­tacks as one of the main risks to fi­nan­cial sta­bil­ity, and made im­prov­ing re­silience a pri­or­ity, in­clud­ing a pro­gram ofvtests to find weak­nesses in the sys­tems of large firms.

It said last year that banks and in­vest­ment com­pa­nies aren't spend­ing enough on com­puter se­cu­rity. Bangladesh cen­tral bank gov­er­nor Atiur Rah­man re­signed on Tues­day af­ter hack­ers breached the bank's sys­tems and stole about $101 mil­lion from the coun­try's for­eign re­serves. Be­fore stand­ing down Rah­man said the at­tack left him "puz­zled."

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