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BAE Systems Joins SWIFT Security Team

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelance and long standing contributor to TechWeek Europe

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Forensic experts join SWIFT to help prevent customer fraud and bolster community security

The SWIFT (Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication) network has joined forces with BAE Systems to bolster its cyber security expertise.

SWIFT last month warned banks that it expects them to deliver an “operational baseline” of appropriate security measures after it was thrust into the limelight comes after a spate of cyber attacks on the network.

In February, online thieves came close to stealing nearly a billion dollars from the account belonging to the Central Bank of Bangladesh.

SWIFT Security

mobile banking cardsThe attackers managed to pocket at least $81 million (£57m) from its account located at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. That attack was thought to be one of the largest bank robberies in history, and prompted the Bank of England to order British banks to carry out a security review of systems connected to SWIFT.

IT security researchers at military contractor BAE Systems in April identified that the attackers had compromised SWIFT’s software.

“The tool was custom-made for this job, and shows a significant level of knowledge of SWIFT Alliance Access software as well as good malware coding skills,” BAE Systems’ researcher Sergei Shevchenko stated at the time.

Brussels-based SWIFT insisted the attacks didn’t involve any compromise of the network itself, but rather seem to have been carried out by attackers who obtained valid credentials from financial institutions and used these to impersonate authorised individuals.

BAE Expertise

But now SWIFT and BAE Systems have decided they should team up, with BAE joining SWIFT’s Customer Service Intelligence team to assist with forensic investigations on customer compromises related to SWIFT products and services.

“The newly formed Customer Security Intelligence team will complement SWIFT’s in-house cyber security experts, and support SWIFT’s customer information sharing initiative to strengthen cyber security across the global community,” the firms said in a statement.

“The inevitable criminal focus on the heart of the financial system means that the financial services industry needs to ensure it has effective cyber defences against well-funded, motivated and organised attackers,” added BAE Systems Director of Cyber Services James Hatch

“It is vital that the industry works together to defend systems and networks and we are pleased to be working with SWIFT to help protect the mutual trust on which the financial system depends.”

“Customer intelligence, including intelligence related to attacks that have ultimately failed, is crucial to helping us continue protecting our community,” said SWIFT CTO, Craig Young. “Information we have already received from impacted banks has allowed us to identify new malware and to publish related indicators of compromise (IoCs) which are helping to protect the wider community.”

“An important dependency of this initiative is SWIFT’s timely receipt of information from affected customers. We therefore continue to remind customers that they are obliged to inform SWIFT of such incidents as soon as possible, and to proactively share all relevant information with us so we can assist all SWIFT users.”

Quiz: What do you know about cybersecurity in 2016?