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Hack attacks growing in danger and complexity, experts warn

By Donal O'Donovan

Published 10/11/2016

The Irish Central Bank's director of policy and risk, Gerry Cross, has said banks are not doing enough to minimise the potential impact of an IT failure on their businesses, reputations and the wider financial system (stock picture)
The Irish Central Bank's director of policy and risk, Gerry Cross, has said banks are not doing enough to minimise the potential impact of an IT failure on their businesses, reputations and the wider financial system (stock picture)

Cyber attacks are getting “more sophisticated, more targeted and progressively more difficult to detect,” top bankers have been warned by the Irish Central Bank.

As Tesco Money this week scrambled to cope with an attack that saw hackers steal funds from 20,000 of its customers’ accounts, the bank’s director of Policy & Risk, Gerry Cross issued the warning to financial institutions in the Republic.

He said banks were not doing enough to minimise the potential impact of an IT failure on their business, reputations and the wider financial system.

The risk of consumers being hit due to IT and cybersecurity incidents is a particular concern, he said.

The warning comes ahead of a major conference on cybersecurity, Dublin Info Sec 2016 in the RDS on November 15.

Cyber crimes including data theft and fraud are now considered to be one of the top ten business risks. As the biggest finance houses do more to protect themselves there is evidence that cybercriminals are moving down the business food chain and targeting small and medium sized firms, he said.

Firms have to stop seeing cybersecurity risk as an IT or process problem, and regard it as a people problem and an issue that board members and senior managers must be across, he said. The Tesco is the latest in a series of high profile attacks that have pushed the issue to the top of the global agenda. October saw an unprecedented attacks on digital giants including Twitter, Paypal, Spotify and US tech provider Dyn, which saw hackers unleashed a complex attack through common devices such as webcams and digital recorders in a stunning breach of global internet stability. Recent months also saw the theft of Hillary Clinton’s emails during her failed presidential bid, and a massive heist in the Bank of Bangladesh.

The Central Bank says it is moving to lift standards, including publishing formal guidance that is now being used to assess firms’ performance at cyber defence.

Government and banking officials meanwhile will be among those attending next week’s cyber security conference, Dublin Info Sec 2016.

New speakers have been added including Pavel Gladyshev, director, UCD’s Digital Forensics Lab. He will be bringing his insights and experience in digital forensics and investigation to Ireland’s leading cybersecurity event. Other speakers include WikiLeaks journalist Sarah Harrison and cyberpsychologist, Dr. Mary Aiken.

The conference is an Independent News and Media event. Attendees are eligible for up to 8 CPE credits. Tickets for the event can be purchased online at www.independent.ie/infosec2016.

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