As per the cyber executives and experts, the banks of the United States are preparing for retaliatory cyberattacks after the nations of the West slap Russia with the raft of strict sanctions for invading Ukraine.
The US blocking Russian banks from the SWIFT international payment system and placing constraints on the global reserves of the central bank of Russia led to the escalation of tensions between the West and Russia on Saturday.
The Western governments cautioned weeks before these latest measures that the increasing tension could lead to multiple cyberattacks from the Russian supporters and the country itself.
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According to the Swarthmore Group’s senior manager of fixed income portfolio, Steven Schweitzer:
“There will be some retaliatory measures taken by them, and I think in the least costly way that they can do it – that means some kind of cyberattack,”
The top cyberattack targets, the Global banks, have begun lining up additional cybersecurity staff in case of any attacks, training for cyberattack scenarios, advancing network monitoring, and digging their networks for potential access points and threats.
The few attacks they are preparing for include malware and ransomware attacks, DoS attacks, theft, and data wiping.
According to Valerie Abend, who leads the global financial services security group of Accenture:
“Banks are incredibly prepared. They have taken out their playbooks and it’s practice, practice, practice,”
Citigroup Inc (C.N), Morgan Stanley (MS.N), JPMorgan Chase & Co (JPM.N), Goldman Sachs Group Inc (GS.N), Bank of America Corp (BAC.N), and other America’s largest banks have refused to reveal their cybersecurity plans and declined to comment.
According to cybersecurity experts, since global banks guard the critical national financial infrastructure, these institutions have good cybersecurity standards and rigorous operational risk rules in the US.
The Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association declared that the industry recently completed a network-wide ransomware drill in November and regularly plans for cyberattacks. They could confirm this since the Association is the one that led the whole exercise.
Abend mentioned that there has been an additional collaborative industry effort leading up to the invasion to assure that the cyberattack responders of the banks have spiked their monitoring and are on high alert.
Private organizations have been warned to be cautious about cyberattacks by the New York Department of Financial Services and the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency.
According to Teresa Walsh, global head of intelligence at the Financial Services Information Sharing and Analysis Center:
“We wouldn’t be doing our due diligence if we weren’t preparing for that,”
“Right now, they’ve been warning in generalities – just be prepared. We are trying to put some more specificity to it,”
Walsh declared that keeping the methods Russian actors have used in the past in mind, banks have been brainstorming various risk situations.
Amongst a few cases, the software breach on the SolarWinds Corp (SWI.N) in 2020 in which hackers were able to access hundreds of organizations by utilizing its products is on top of everyone’s minds.
This has increased the focus of lenders on third-party providers like software-as-a-service firms and the big cloud.
Even though banks have high IT budgets and strict compliance programs, if providers like these are hacked, the data of banks can be exposed.
This is why banks are urging such third-party software providers to ensure having suitable safety protocols.
As per Walsh, they are also hunting for malicious behaviors in the IT systems of banks, inspecting potential vulnerabilities, and evaluating anything they recently restored.
“It’s all about being prepared and not waiting for when the crisis happens,”
Previously, the Department of Justice also asked organizations to shore up their online security amid Russian tensions. Americans were also warned about potential Russian cyberattacks by DHS.