Treasury Secretary warns of cyber threats to financial sector

Jacob Lew says cyber defense "will be a central test for all of us going forward."

Wikipedia image: Jacob Joseph

Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew said cyberattacks on the financial industry present "a real threat to our economic and national security."

Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew warned of the dangers of cyberattacks on the financial sector in a July 16 speech in New York City, calling the cyber defense of businesses and government "a central test for all of us going forward."

"When credit card data is stolen, it disturbs lives and damages consumer confidence. When trade secrets are robbed, it undercuts America's businesses and undermines U.S. competitiveness," Lew said. "And successful attacks on our financial system would compromise market confidence, jeopardize the integrity of data and pose a threat to financial stability."

Private firms are primarily responsible for protecting themselves against cyber threats, but government can help by prosecuting cyber criminals, holding "state-sponsored attackers accountable and [providing] critical intelligence about specific threats and to share best practices," he said.

Hackers have already taken aim at the U.S. financial sector, notably in September 2012 when several big banks were hit by distributed denial-of-service attacks. Then-National Security Agency Director Gen. Keith Alexander warned last year that a foreign nation could cripple America’s financial system with a cyberattack.

More than 250 DDOS attacks have hit U.S. banks and credit unions since 2011, Lew said.

"Cyberattacks on our financial system represent a real threat to our economic and national security, but a malicious cyber actor can cause catastrophic damage to our financial system without directly attacking a bank," he said.

"Risks to the system can be found at the vendors, suppliers and contractors who keep our financial system running," Lew added, referencing the hacking last year of billing information for tens of millions of Target customers. Hackers allegedly breached Target’s computer network through a heating and air conditioning contractor.

Lew beseeched financial services firms and vendors that serve them to use the Obama administration’s framework document for managing cyber risk for critical infrastructure. "Just as you consider your counter-parties when you take on financial risk, you should also consider your counter-parties in the area of cyber risk," he advised.

Lew joined a chorus of administration officials calling on Congress to pass a cybersecurity bill to bolster public-private information sharing of threats and to protect firms from liability for sharing such information.

"As it stands, our laws do not do enough to foster information sharing and defend the public from digital threats," Lew argued.

Experts have credited a $2 million grant from the Treasury Department in 2003 for boosting the effectiveness of the Financial Services Information Sharing and Analysis Center, a forum for banks and other financial firms to share cyber-threat information. In his speech, Lew highlighted a complementary tool available to the financial sector: a working group of cyber experts set up by the Treasury Department that feeds threat information to banks.

Thumbnail image: Jacob Lew and company touring Verizon.

Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew (right) speaks with Bryan Sartin (center), director of Verizon Enterprise Solutions' RISK Team, and Josh Sura, manager of Verizon's FiOS Network Operations Center. (Photo: Sean Lyngaas)

The Treasury secretary visited Verizon Enterprise Solutions' office in Ashburn, Va., on July 15 for a private briefing on cyber threats with Verizon executives. Lew then toured the telecom subsidiary’s network operations center, stopping for a minute to tell reporters, "we've made a lot of progress, but we still have work to do to make sure that our systems are all safe from cyber threats. It's a very important challenge that we face economically, and in terms of our security."

Michael Maiorana, a senior vice president of Verizon Enterprise Solutions who met with the Treasury secretary, said his main message to agency heads like Lew is that “their networks are under constant attack.” Federal chief technology and information security officers routinely come to VES’s sprawling Ashburn facility for detailed cybersecurity briefings, he said.

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.