- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 1, 2016

The high-stakes cyber heist that allowed hackers to steal tens of millions of dollars from the Bangladesh central bank earlier this year prompted a congressional committee to request a briefing Tuesday with the New York Federal Reserve.

House Science Committee Chairman Lamar Smith, Texas Republican, said in a letter to Federal Reserve Bank of New York President William Dudley that recent cyberattacks waged at the global financial sector has piqued lawmakers’ interest with regards to the New York Fed’s role in overseeing SWIFT, an international messaging system that was exploited by the hackers who stole $81 million in February from the Bank of Bangladesh.

SWIFT, or the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, is used by thousands of banks internationally to securely send and receive financial transaction data. As acknowledged Mr. Smith’s letter, however, a security flaw affecting the platform is alleged to have allowed hackers to steal millions of dollars from the Bangladesh bank’s account with the New York Fed, and is linked to several similar incidents that have come to light in the weeks since.

“In light of the recent cyberattacks on our global financial systems, the Committee believes it is imperative to receive information from the N.Y. Fed about its response, its oversight of SWIFT, the status of the investigation and any remedial steps taken to address vulnerabilities,” the chairman wrote Mr. Dudley.

The letter went on to cite news reports from last month in which SWIFT admitted the Bangladesh breach “was not an isolated incident, but one of several recent criminal schemes aimed to take advantage of the global messaging platform used by some 11,000 financial institutions.”

“This is deeply troubling and it is Congress’ responsibility to ensure, through its oversight, that the N.Y. Fed is taking all precautions to protect American finances and aggressively execute its own role as overseer of SWIFT,” Mr. Smith added.


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The House Science Committee oversees the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology, the agency tasked with developing cybersecurity standards for the federal government. Mr. Smith has requested that the New York Fed provide the panel with documents concerning the Bank of Bangladesh hack, as well as information regarding the Fed’s relationship with SWIFT, by June 14.

Separately, Reuters reported Wednesday that government records concerning the U.S. Federal Reserve suggest the central bank was subject to more than 50 cybersecurity incidents between 2011 and 2015.

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