Magazine article American Banker

Spy Agency Said to Help Banks Bolster Digital Defenses: Report

Magazine article American Banker

Spy Agency Said to Help Banks Bolster Digital Defenses: Report

Article excerpt

Byline: Brian Browdie

U.S. intelligence officials may be advising some big banks on how to shore up defenses against cyberattacks.

At least some banks that have seen their websites bog down amid a string of electronic assaults have turned to the National Security Agency for help, the Washington Post reported on Friday.

The banks are said to have pressed the nation's top spy agency for advice on how to protect their computer systems and for information about methods used in the attacks, which have swamped the websites of at least 12 banks since September and prevented customers from retrieving their accounts.

Some experts say the attacks are the work of the Iranian government, which has denied responsibility.

"Agencies like the NSA have tremendous expertise for very sophisticated types of information," an unnamed bank official told the publication.

The NSA did not respond immediately to a request for comment.

Department of Homeland Security spokesman Peter Boogaard said in an email that DHS "when called upon... collaborates with public and private sector partners, including the banking industry" to address disruptions to "critical cyber and communications networks and to reduce impacts on critical infrastructure."

Though banks long have safeguarded their networks from varied types of threats, experts say recent assaults reflect an ability by attackers to refine their approach in ways that have left banks vulnerable.

Since September, hackers have hit banks' websites with encryption requests that consume unprecedented bandwidth and processing power. …

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