Wednesday, July 17, 2013

More Cyberattacks Targeting Investment Firms Serving Individual Investors

In today’s Internet-centric world, cybercrime in all forms has become a way of life. Credit card information is stolen, personal identification compromised, and in what’s been described as the “greatest transfer of wealth in history,” massive amounts of valuable intellectual property are being whisked away from U.S. companies and the U.S. Department of Defense.

And it’s all happening at an alarming rate.

Where are risks of personal losses from cyberattacks the highest? The financial industry. Staggering bank account and credit card losses mount as personal information is stolen from retailers and then sold on the black market.

According to one financial industry official: “The scale of the credit card loss problem is significant. The cost of maintaining a highly secure network is high and climbing higher for private companies, and many may not be willing to make that investment.”

Recently a new, more sophisticated level of cyberattacks has been targeting U.S. financial markets. As reported in the July 17th Wall Street Journal, “malicious cyberattacks increasingly are aimed at core infrastructure of the securities markets and could present risks to the entire financial system.”

According to the article, what is markedly different about the most recent attacks is that their purpose is not to make a profit – it’s to disrupt our securities markets.

Such attacks could corrupt account records, inhibit the individual investor’s ability to transfer or withdraw funds, or knock out the trading platforms on which our securities markets function. Can you imagine the chaos that would ensue?

This threat is real – and growing. According to a just-released survey by the International Organization of Securities Commissions, “More than half of the [international securities] exchanges polled said they have experienced cyberattacks in the past year.”

Quantum Dawn 2
While cooperation between the financial industry and our government has historically been lacking, there is a glimmer of hope: a new joint effort to curb financial cyberattacks is taking place July 18th. A large-scale simulation of an attack on the U.S. financial system, dubbed “Quantum Dawn 2” will, according to the Journal, involve some 50 banks, exchanges and federal agencies. Included are the Department of Homeland Security and the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Following the exercise, the 50 firms will be able to assess and hopefully improve their defenses against financial cyberattacks.

With increasing cyber threats placing our savings, financial investments, and retirement accounts at risk, we must all become more aware of our individual investment firms’ resilience to cyberattacks.

How will our nation’s banks and exchanges fair during the cyberattack simulation? Check back here next week for the results from Quantum Dawn 2, and what it means for your money.

("Stock Exchange Board" image: audfriday13/

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