BoE demands UK banks to step up cyber-security after Bangladesh attack

Following the attack in February on the Central Bank of Bangladesh, the Bank of England (BoE) has issued an urgent call for all British banks to carry out a security review of any computer connected to the SWIFT network.

The warning was issued in mid-to-late April, but is only now being made public. In the attack launched three months ago, hackers were able to compromise £56 million in what is thought to be one of the largest bank robberies in history.

In addition to the audit, the BoE demanded a compliance check to ensure that security policies recommended by SWIFT are being followed. The BoE wants UK banks to conduct ‘user entitlement reviews' to ensure that only authorised staff have access to SWIFT sensitive applications and web portals. Computer logs for digital evidence are also being reviewed as ‘indicators of compromise' including IP addresses and email addresses linked to recent attacks.

The attack on the Bangladesh central bank was not the only attack of its kind. SWIFT issued a notice on 13 May saying that another instance of a malware-led attack on an institution directed at banks' secondary controls had emerged. Before SWIFT was made aware, attackers exploited vulnerabilities in banks funds' transfer initiation environments.

Banks in the UK are not the only ones affected by the Bangladesh attack. High levels of security are being maintained in other central banks such as those of Singapore and the Philippines.

“The Bank of England's call to action is a reminder that British businesses can no longer afford to be complacent in the face of mounting cyber-security threats,” said Neil Greathead, VP, chief customer office, EMEA at BMC Software. “As companies continue to embrace digital transformation initiative, hackers will increase attacks to steal confidential data. That's why it's critical that banks and organisations in the financial services space increase information security procedures for the long-term.”

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