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Cybersecurity threats that keep the banks up at night

Scott Carey | May 3, 2017
The threat landscape is always changing

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In the current climate of major data breaches amidst an ever-shifting cyber threat landscape, the people in charge of vast volumes of valuable financial data are under increasing pressure to keep customer data safe from hackers and fraudsters.

Speaking at the SWIFT Business Forum in London last week, a range of senior security professionals at financial services firms and banks told the audience what keeps them up at night when it comes to cyber security and fraud. Here's what they said:


1. A constantly changing threat landscape

JF Legault, global head of cybersecurity operations at JP Morgan, highlighted the way that the threat landscape has changed over the past few years.

He explained: "In late 2014 we saw the advent of malware targeting wholesale banking platforms. Criminals stopped going after simple, low-value monetary amounts and shifted to high-value payment platforms. The reason they did that was a lot more yield on the crime they committed. We also saw a shift toward business email compromise. We also saw a number of breaches affecting the financial sector that led to fraudulent messages."

His diplomatic answer to what keeps him up at night was simply: "What the business says keeps it up at night. I am there to help the business innovate and look at the different risks they face."


2. False positives

In the fraud space, the biggest issue for banks is "false positives" in its anti-money laundering (AML) monitoring systems. This means issues being flagged that aren't actually fraudulent activities, taking up valuable analyst time.

Anthony Fenwick, global head of treasury and trade solutions and AML compliance at Citi Group said simply: "Our biggest problem in this industry is false positives."

When asked if artificial intelligence technology could help solve this issue, Fenwick said: "The story is why are we producing so many false positives, not 'let's deploy robots to get rid of the false positives'.

"One of the drivers I am trying to change is that the use of electronics and AI have to go hand-in-hand with the best humans. The idea that we remove all human activity from this process misses the point of what we are trying to do, which is marry these two capabilities to tackle the beast of bad data."


3. The big breach

Royce Curtin, managing director of global intelligence at Barclays, said: "It's the big breach that keeps us awake at night. If and when and that ultimate failure to provide the service customers expect and entrust us to keep safe. So we work very hard and take it very seriously the responsibility of building systems and trust for services that people feel comfortable using."


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