At Prospect's recent event, experts discussed cyber threats to our financial systemby Tanjil Rashid / March 8, 2016 / Leave a comment
Read more: Cyber security—mapping the unknowable risk
This week the former Head of MI5, Jonathan Evans, claimed that cybercrime constituted “the biggest and likeliest threat” to the British economy. Speaking at a Prospect event entitled Cybercrime and cyberattack—the threat to our financial system, to an audience at The City of London’s Guildhall on 1st March, Evans said that it was “now easier to attack banks cybernetically than physically.”
In his keynote speech, Evans warned British companies that cyber-enabled crime is now more lucrative than crime committed in the real world. “It is much more profitable to attack a financial institution through cyberspace than through a traditional bank raid,” he said. He also remarked how the difficulty of landing a successful prosecution in cases of cybercrime is enticing criminals. “If you are a sensible criminal, you will make the internet your attack vector,” he said.
Beyond financially-motivated law-breaking, Evans outlined the diversity of other threats posed by cybercrime. Mark Camillo, Head of Cyber at AIG, argued that to best protect themselves against such threats businesses must ask themselves “What is good cyber hygiene?” He drew attention to the existing cyber security frameworks published by, among others, the government, but suggested such frameworks needed to be “more adaptable.”
Formerly one of Britain’s top spies, Evans spoke of how information technology has increased the threat of espionage, which has shifted from “a very analogue activity” to what is now “a very cyber activity.” Stealing information from governments and companies digitally is now more effective and cheaper than doing so using traditional methods, as well as having, he argued, “the great advantage of deniability,” with cyber espionage proving very difficult to attribute. He noted that financial institutions were no less at risk than companies in the defence contractor world, because states are now using cyber espionage to gain commercial advantages, as well as political or military ones.
Evans contended that cyberterrorism is the threat most likely to grow in the years to come. The UK’s director of international counter terrorism at the time of the terrorist attacks on 11th September 2001, he observed that although Al-Qaeda and Daesh have declared days of cyber jihad, the classic terrorist groups haven’t been using cyber…