Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell Cites Cyberthreats as Current “Biggest Concern” to Financial Institutions

Financial Institutions Biggest ConcernFears of a resurgence of COVID-19 and increased cyberattacks are mentioned as top risks that can materially impact the finance sector and the economy, by Jerome Powell in a recent interview.

Jerome Powell recently met with the folks at 60 Minutes to discuss the current state of the economy. Amid the discussion around how well we’re bouncing back and what the future holds for the United States, Powell shifted gears to discuss how the risks to the finance world have changed. He stated, “I would say that the risk that we keep our eyes on the most now is cyber risk", highlighting that "there are cyberattacks every day on all major institutions now.”

He went on to even state that cyber risk is an even greater reality today than a global financial crisis.

The International Monetary Fund estimated cybercrime may cost banks around the world about $100 billion annually way back in 2018 – making those costs even higher today.

I’ve showcased plenty of examples of attacks on banks and other financial institutions, including a recent credential stuffing attack. We’ve also covered the recent warning from the FDIC urging banks to beef up their cybersecurity stance.

If you’re securing a financial institution, I’ll offer three simple pieces of advice that will materially tighten your security:

  • Kill every last instance of Internet-facing RDP – This remains a top ransomware initial attack vector.
  • Put a layered security strategy in place – make it difficult for the bad guy with a multitude of solutions each working to mitigate attacks a different way.
  • Use Security Awareness Training – teach your employees to act as part of your defenses, always being vigilant against suspicious and/or malicious email and web content.

If the person at the very top of our economy says cyber risk should be a top priority, I suggest you heed his warning – whether you’re working in a financial institution or not.

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