Security & Fraud

Central Banks Warn About Inter-bank Payment Security Risks

Central banks have expressed concern over the security of payments and the messaging systems that help facilitate inter-bank transactions, a Reuters news report said Thursday, Sept. 28.

The central banks, which hail from some of the largest economies in the world, have proposed a number of ways that security can be bolstered. Operating through the Committee on Payments and Market Infrastructures – which operates as an affiliate of the Bank for International Settlements – the central banks said, as the newswire termed it, “institutions [need] to step up their game to protect the stability of the financial system.”

The backdrop is one where hackers have become rather brazen, and global, in their attempts to pilfer funds. Consider the case where hackers tried to nab roughly $1 billion from Bangladesh’s central bank account held at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. They didn’t get nearly that amount, but did indeed manage to steal about $80 million – allegedly due to weak security procedures in place with the SWIFT terminal in place with Bangladesh’s bank – before the fraud was uncovered. Those SWIFT messages, reported Reuters, have historically been taken “at face value” when moving cumulative tallies of trillions of dollars daily.

In tandem with the sentiment that efforts need to be bolstered in the fight against fraud, the CPMI’s chairman, Benoit Coeure, said that “wholesale payments fraud is becoming increasingly sophisticated and is expected to evolve further. We need to move fast, and together, to guard against any loss of confidence in the system.”

Amid seven proposals noted by the newswire, the CPMI has said that a payments systems such as SWIFT’s should take pains to report fraud (and attempted fraud) quickly, monitor access points and conduct risk audits. The proposals, with further stakeholder input, will be published by early next year in a document meant to provide non-binding guidance.

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