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Lawmaker raises concern over US bank hacks

Republican lawmaker Carolyn B. Maloney has expressed concern over bank hacks by writing a letter to the top banking regulators of the country.

Lawmaker raises concern over US bank hacks

He said that the recent hacks of international banks through the SWIFT messaging system highlights cyber-related risks to firms based in the country.

Maloney represents part of Manhattan, which has a good population employed in finance and banking. She wrote to Federal Reserve Chair Janet L. Yellen, U.S. Comptroller Thomas J. Curry and Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Chairman Martin J. Gruenberg that she remains "deeply concerned about U.S. banks' exposure to these new, sophisticated cyber attacks."

The SWIFT network is very useful as banks use it to process billions of dollars in transfers each day. It would not be wrong to say that this network is the backbone of international banking. But SWIFT's messages were used in February by criminals to steal $81 million from the Bangladesh central bank.

Some other incidences of thefts and acts of fraud have also surfaced. The Belgium-based cooperative that runs the network has urged member banks to share information about attacks.

Wells Fargo last year reportedly approved transfers totalling $12 million from Banco del Austro in Ecuador after it received requests through the secure messaging system. Both banks later claim that unidentified hackers were involved in that incident too.

Maloney, the senior Democrat on the House Financial Services subcommittee on capital markets, asked the regulators what steps they had taken, or will take, "to ensure that all U.S. banks have adequate security measures in place to protect against cyber attacks that involve stolen SWIFT credentials."

She also wanted to know how they would ensure that US "members of SWIFT are in full compliance with SWIFT's recommended security practices and policies."

"In addition, I believe that your agencies can play an important leadership role in the international response to these cyber attacks," Maloney wrote.