Managing new cyber threats


When it comes to the looming threat of sophisticated cyber attacks against U.S. infrastructure targets, the banking industry is caught in no man's land.

Unfortunately, it's had a bitter taste of such attacks recently. The massive denial of service attack against banks continues to spread, as more regional banks now find themselves in the line of fire. The list of targets has expanded to include the likes of SunTrust, Regions and Capital One.

Unfortunately, there would appear to be no real sense of urgency among the top executives. Not even after Leon Panetta warned recently that the U.S. faces the virtual equivalent of an attack on Pearl Harbor. Legislation that would enhance cyber security remains stalled in Congress. So while the industry remains vulnerable and while the status quo is hardly acceptable, there doesn't appear to be much movement toward some sort of coordinated solution.

Ideally, the industry will assert itself here through its trade organizations. In some ways, a private sector solution may be the best route initially. Frankly, one could argue that some sort of private sector response right now is imperative. In Europe, we're seeing signs of a coordinated defense. Roughly, 1,200 institutions recently collaborated on a mock attack to test how such an attack might occur and how companies and others might respond.

The exercise hardly represents a solution, but it is a first step. And sadly, the U.S., or even the financial community, has yet to progress that far. As of now, the battle has yet to be joined, which is not wise. -Jim



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