FBI official warns banks on computer security

FBI official warns banks on computer security

By Dennis M. Blank

Special to GCN

A successful hacker attack against the banking and financial system could cripple the United States within three days, an FBI official warned this week.

'We cannot afford to let our dependence on automation become our Achilles heel," said Alan B. Carroll, who supervises the analysis and warning component at the FBI's National Infrastructure Protection Center. 'Our challenge is to button up the holes in our critical infrastructure, and believe me, there are holes."

Carroll was among the experts speaking to more than 1,000 investigators and information security system managers, including many from civilian and Defense Department agencies, at the InfoSec World Conference in Orlando, Fla.

The FBI and other agencies are working to improve computer security for eight critical infrastructures: utilities, oil and gas, telecommunications, transportation, banking and finance, water, emergency services and government operations, Carroll said.

One of the most vulnerable areas is finance and banking because it is difficult to determine where a cyberattack might originate, he said.

'We have had many doors slammed in our faces by banks," Carroll said. 'They said, 'Get out of here because we can do it ourselves.'"

But the financial industry is gradually realizing the benefits of working with the FBI, he said.

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