Defense Officials Strengthen Cyber Security for Banks

In December it was reported that US banks had spent months preparing for potential cyberterrorist attacks.  Defense officials believe the Iranian government is sponsoring Russian cyber mafia groups who target US banks.  To date the groups have done little more than disrupt bank websites for a few hours, but officials warn the so-called ‘Project Blitzkrieg’ could without warning, cause a more devastating security breach.

The terrorist groups have reportedly developed a powerful Trojan virus designed to bypass bank security, and gain access to innocent American bank accounts.  Security groups suggest these types of threats aren’t uncommon, but the defense department has increased their cyber security after linking Project Blitzkrieg to exiled Russian criminals.  These criminals are suspected to receive funding and sponsorship from the Iranian government, which suggests the attacks are far more sophisticated than the interference banks are used to.
 
Typically banks and financial institutions maintain an arms-length distance from both the federal government and the defense department.  Earlier in 2012, the financial industry rejected enhanced cyber security parameters that would have been managed by the defense department, arguing it could undermine privacy protection for customers.  However, the banks admit they are ill-equipped to manage a cyber attack financed by an entire foreign government – as a result, they have asked federal agencies for help.
 
Kiersten Todt Coon used to work on the Senate Homeland Security committee, but has since become President of a risk management firm for the financial industry.  She says if banks are asking the government to manage their security firewalls, the threat is more than a typical hacking.
 
“The financial sector has historically been so sophisticated and organized in its security approach.  When they choose to go to the government that shows how strong the severity of this threat is.”

Defense officials are trying to downplay the likelihood of an attack to reduce panic among bank and credit card account holders across the country.