Cyber attacks growing: Entire Western financial system vulnerable

The threat posed by cyber war to our increasingly complicated, technologically dependent and vulnerable financial institutions, markets, banks and indeed deposits becomes more clear by the day.

British and U.S. agents will carry out a mock cyber attack or "cyber war games" on the Bank of England and commercial banks in City of London and on Wall Street in the coming months as part of tests on critical, but vulnerable financial infrastructure.

Should banks be hacked and customers deposit accounts compromised then the vista of potential bail ins becomes a real one. In June, JP Morgan Chase were hacked by unknown parties who stole the personal details of 83 million customers.

In July of last year Bloomberg reported that malware had been detected in the system of the Nasdaq exchange. Its purpose was unclear but it was believed to have been embedded there by Russian hackers.

There is also the alleged hacking of Sony Pictures by North Korea and the alleged hacking of Facebook, Instagram and Tinder yesterday.

David Cameron announced measures two weeks ago that he said were designed to help companies, government organisations and banks and prevent a repeat of hacking attacks.

The alleged busting of a Russian spy-ring in New York on Monday, for gathering intelligence that could be used for “destabilisation of the markets,” highlights yet again that the threat posed by cyber-warfare is a growing one.

The accused is a journalist working for The News Organisation, a Russian media company which is used by Russia’s SVR intelligence agency to gather information according to a statement issued by the U.S. Department of Justice on Monday.

The claim was made based on an intercepted conversation where the accused discusses with another Russian – a banker based in New York–what three questions he should ask the “New York Exchange.”

His associate suggests looking at ETFs: “How they are used, the mechanisms of use for destabilization of the markets.” He adds,  “Then you can ask them what they think about limiting the use of trading robots...You can also ask about the potential interest of the participants of the exchange to the products tied to the Russian Federation.”

While the claim that this conversation is evidence of espionage is a flimsy one, it along with recent events serves to highlight the vulnerability of the internet, our websites and the financial system--a system that has grown so vast and unwieldy that managing security has become and ad hoc process.

Yesterday morning social networks Facebook and Instagram were allegedly hacked by "Lizard Squad," a group of hackers. The group have previously hacked Malaysian Airlines.

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