​G7 moves to protect finance sector after SWIFT cyberattacks

Group of 7 nations have published new guidelines to harden the financial sector against cyberattacks that could cause system-wide disruptions.

The new guidelines, published on the websites of G-7 nations today, represent policymakers’ efforts to develop a coordinated response to cyberattacks against private sector finance firms that could spillover to global markets.

G7 is comprised of Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States. The newly agreed guidelines follow a G7 meeting in May that for the first time assessed cybersecurity risks. The meeting took place in the wake of cyberattacks on banks in Vietnam and Bangladesh that rattled regulators and the banking industry.

The attacks, attributed to a group called Lazarus, targeted banking customers using the SWIFT international interbank messaging service.

“Cyber threats present a set of pressing operational, reputational and financial stability risks facing the international financial system,” said US Treasury Deputy Secretary Sarah Bloom Raskin, who led US efforts to create the framework.

“Sovereign borders do not contain these threats, and accordingly, nations must work together to address them,” she added.

The guidelines outline procedures finance firms should implement to conform with an local authority’s risk rules. They also bring into focus government responsibilities to identify single points of failure, sector-wide cyber threats, and at-risk firms.

The eight “fundamental elements” of the guidelines contain suggestions for how regulators and finance organizations should build a cybersecurity strategy, spanning governance, risk assessment, monitoring, response, recovery, information sharing, and identifying strategic gaps.

While the new guidelines may help devise a more coherent international response to cybersecurity threats to the finance sector, hackers may still prove nimble enough to outmaneuver them.

Security firm Symantec today revealed a new threat to banks that use Swift. It found a second group, dubbed Odinaff, may have targeted Swift banking customers. The malware contained code designed to hide bank records of Swift messages concerning fraudulent transactions.

Odinaff appears to be linked to another notorious piece of banking-focussed malware gang called Carnanak.

Symantec said some hacking groups “have learned that banks employ a diverse range of systems and have invested time in finding out how they work and how employees operate them. When coupled with the high level of technical expertise available to some groups, these groups now pose a significant threat to any organization they target.”

Tags cyber threatssymantecrisk assessmentcyberattacksSwiftG7Lazarus

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