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UK MPs Want Higher Level Of Cyber Security For Financial Sector

The UK’s parliamentary treasury committee head Andrew Tyrie has recommended that more needs to be done to protect the pivotal financial services industry from dangerous cyber-attacks.

Tyrie made the suggestion in a letter to Ciaran Martin, head of the country’s new cyber security centre, the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) which operates under the surveillance agency GCHQ.

Tyrie referred to the to the recent of Tesco Bank accounts as an example and pointed out the existing vulnerabilities of UK’s financial system.

The letter also highlighted the fact that interruptions to banking services were occurring due to legacy systems, malicious attacks and human error which affected the public’s confidence in the banking system.

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The cyberattack on Tesco Bank last month saw hackers steal over £2.5 million ($3.1 million) from around 9,000 accounts.

Tyrie’s letter also pointed out that the existing relationships between relevant authorities were not fully aligned. Cyber-threats are handled by Bank of England’s Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA), the GCHQ and the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). The regulatory authorities report to the Treasure and GCHQ reports to foreign secretary. In light of this arrangement, Tyrie emphasized the need for intelligence agencies to give appropriate support to regulators.

In a statement, Tyrie said

It is essential that the intelligence community gives the regulators the technical and practical support they need to do their job. This means making sure that financial cybercrime has a high priority, and is not subordinate to other work.Certainly, as millions of customers are exposed to the risks of cybercrime, a higher level of scrutiny and accountability for existing arrangements is needed.

He has suggested creation of a single point of contact that would be responsible for monitoring and managing cyber risk faced by the financial services sector. In his letter, Tyrie has also asked for clarity on objectives of the NCSC which was set up two month ago. A spokesman for the NCSC said that the letter had been received and a response would be given in the New Year.

In the evidence sessions related to the cyberattacks as well, the parliamentary committee has been raising concern regarding the lack of a central authority to handle financial cyber crime. Sam Woods, the Bank’s deputy governor who is in charge of PRA responded to a question regarding a single point of contact stating that it was important to understand the agency in charge rather than having a single point of contact.


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