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Senators urge President Obama to prioritize financial cybersecurity at G-20 summit
In a letter dated August 29, six United States senators urged President Obama to prioritize cybersecurity risks facing financial firms during the upcoming G-20 Leaders summit in September. The senators noted that the discussions “merit attention not only in finance ministries and central banks, but also in executive leadership circles across the globe.” They warned that cyber attacks on financial institutions have accelerated risks to international finance and the global economy. The signatories—all of whom are Democrats—are Senator Gary Peters (MI), Kirsten Gillibrand (NY), Debbie Stabenow (MI), Martin Heinrich (NM), Sherrod Brown (OH) and Mark Warner (VA). The senators sent copies of the letter to Treasury Secretary Jack Lew and Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen.
The senators specifically referenced that, in February, hackers fraudulently utilized the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) international financial messaging service to steal $81 million from the Central Bank of Bangladesh. Subsequently, similar attacks took place at financial institutions in other nations. The senators suggested that international leaders must “take steps in the near term to erect more robust defenses and collaborative systems to prevent and mitigate the impact of successful attacks.”
The senators referenced that SWIFT has implemented financial measures to encourage its members to investigate their security protocols. They stressed that it is not only SWIFT’s responsibility to respond to the cyber threats, but responsibility must also belong to its stakeholders and their nations’ financial regulators. “In a connected international financial system, we are only as strong as our weakest link.” Global coordination will improve collaboration in and among international law enforcement and the financial regulatory sector, especially to pursue counter-terror financing and anti-money laundering agendas.
It will be interesting to watch how cybersecurity issues arise in our domestic elections this fall, as well as on the international stage, during the remaining months of the Obama administration and upon the start of our new presidential administration.


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