The U.S. Senate held a hearing Wednesday (Dec. 10) on cybersecurity, where witnesses told them the problem is quickly getting out of control.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., according to a story in The American Banker, asked regulators to use more pressure to encourage banks and other payments players to take security much more seriously.
"You know, as we all know here, a future cyber attack could paralyze the financial sector with devastating consequences for our economy. No two crises are alike. We want to be out in front on this," Warren told Valerie Abend, the senior critical infrastructure officer for the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency. "And I'd really like to know that the OCC is using this as part of their ranking."
Abend declined to say whether security preparedness plays a current role in exam ratings.
Warren also raised concerns with how regulators are evaluating "other entities along the chain, from the retail merchants, to the third-party data processors, and software providers" to ensure that the companies that work with banks are similarly prepared to defend against cyberthreats, the story said.
Senate Banking Committee Chairman Tim Johnson (D-SD) said laws and regulations may need to be changed to deal with the changing payments landscape.
"Safeguarding cyberspace has become increasingly complex as our lives become more entwined with technology. Technological innovation in financial services, such as mobile payments, peer-to-peer lending, and cloud computing, can facilitate improvements in the consumer experience and economic growth," Johnson said in a statement. "However, these innovations highlight the crucial need for sound cybersecurity policy, as many of these products are outside of the regulated financial sector."
The full videocast of the hearing is available from Senate archives.