Department of Treasury Fears Hackers Could Disrupt US Economy

The Financial Security of the US could be in the hands of hackers, a press release from the Treasury Department states after a financial cybersecurity meeting involving the FBI and SEC. Over 17 financial regulation agencies attended the event to work on “strengthening information sharing on cyber vulnerabilities, threats and incidents.”

During the Financial and Banking Information Infrastructure Committee (FBIIC) meeting, the FBI provided information and details on the current cybercrime landscape in an effort to work on “furthering the adoption of cybersecurity best practices and enhancing the financial sector’s ability to respond to and recover from cyber incidents.” Of current threats to the federal government, those involving hackers are causing the most concern.

Excerpt from the readout below:

At today’s meeting, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) provided the Committee with insights on the current cyber threat landscape. Committee leadership also discussed efforts to increase information sharing among FBIIC member agencies and the development of common risk-based approaches to managing cybersecurity risk, as was described in the latest annual report of the Financial Stability Oversight Council (FSOC).

Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Chair Mary Jo White and Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) Chair Timothy Massad presented their agencies’ overall approaches to cybersecurity and an overview of applicable exams, rules, and other actions related to cybersecurity. Additionally, Committee members were briefed on the results of recent cyber exercises, coordinated by FBIIC and FSOC member agency staff, which evaluated the impact of a cyber incident on financial stability.

According to Inverse, the FBIIC meeting was a followup to the cybersecurity threats addressed in the most recent Financial Stability Oversight Council report – the report highlights Congress on the financial market, regulation developments, potential threats and financial stability. Alongside of the summary of the current year’s events, the Financial Stability Oversight Council makes recommendations to Congress regarding market discipline, investor confidence, and stability of US financial markets.

The report listed cybersecurity is a priority concern stating “government agencies and the private sector should continue to work to improve and enhance information sharing, baseline protections such as security controls and network monitoring, and response and recovery planning.”

The cybersecurity threats shared in both the FBIIC meeting and Financial Stability Oversight Council report mirror concerns Barack Obama and The Department of Defense have been actively preparing for. The Department of Defense has gone as far as paying seasoned hackers to pen-test the Pentagon’s digital security and infrastructure, Inverse says.

An article was published by Reuters that more accurately paints the situation; according to Freedom of Information Act requests, the Federal Reserve was hacked at least 50 times between 2011 and 2015, several of which were considered to be espionage. The government declined to comment. It’s unknown who was doing the hacking and what they were after, but the number of hacks alone is disturbing.

Government agencies have been concerned about for years – generally in regard to national security – but disrupting an economy is new threat with a potentially much greater fallout. The Treasury Department isn’t theorizing of these threats in a distant future; these meetings are to prepare the federal government for cybercrime of this caliper that could happen tomorrow.

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