Bank knowledge-sharing vital to cyber threat protection, warns industry body

British Bankers' Association calls for better industry collaboration

Communications between banks and government agencies must improve if the finance sector is to protect itself against the growing threat of cyber crime, according to a leading industry body.

In a report titled The cyber threat to banking; A global industry challenge, the British Bankers' Association (BBA) warns that banks need to improve knowledge-sharing capabilities in order to react quickly to a fast-changing threat landscape.

"As cyber threats evolve, it is essential that banks build their knowledge of emerging risks so that effective mitigation strategies can be put in place," the BBA report reads.

"More effective sharing of knowledge and experiences across the banking sector will support such efforts.

"The BBA, working with members and other partner bodies should consider how the mechanisms for this sharing can be optimised, to support actions by banks against emerging cyber threats."

The report highlights the range of threats from a variety of players such as organised criminals, nation states and hacktivist groups. This includes the continued increase in use of denial of service attacks, often targeted at bank websites, and new tactics to steal money from customers, such as ransomware.

The BBA's warning echoes a similar message from regulators following the Bank of England-led cyber security exercise last year, named Operation Waking Shark. The findings of the second phase of the four-hour resiliency test event revealed a lack of formal communication channels between banks and the wider sector when cyber attacks occur.

Following the test, the Bank of England recommended a "single coordination body" be established to manage communications during an incident, with the British Bankers' Association tipped to take on the role.

The BBA report, produced in partnership with PwC, is released as senior members of the banking community, regulators and government officials meet today to discuss the growing risk that cyber crime presents to the market. This includes Interpol, Bank of England, Home Office and the National Crime Agency.

It also calls for more accurate measurement of the industry-wide impact of cyber attacks in order to understand the real cost and scale of the evolving threat. The BBA also calls for greater international collaboration to share intelligence that can help protect financial institutions, as well as more 'joined-up' discussions on regulations.