SWIFT CEO Says Even More Devastating Cyber Attacks Likely


Swift’s CEO Gottfried Leibbrandt has warned that hackers could use its financial transfer system to cause greater havoc on international banks.

Leibbrandt, who delivered the keynote address at the 14th annual European Financial Services Conference in Brussels today, announced SWIFT’s five-part Customer Security Program to reinforce the security of the shared, global financial system.

The five part-plan, includes initiatives to:

  • Improve information sharing among the global financial community;
  • Harden security requirements for customer-managed software to better protect their local environments, enhance our guidelines and develop security audit frameworks for customers;
  • Support banks’ increased use of payment pattern controls to identify suspicious behavior; and
  • Introduce certification requirements for third party providers.

“SWIFT, our network, software and our core messaging services have not been compromised. In Bangladesh and the other cases, the thieves compromised the IT environment and worked their way to the bank systems where the SWIFT instructions are generated and the confirmations received,” said Leibbrandt.

 “And while we (and other providers) give tools and software to our customers, our customers run these in their own environment and need to keep them secure. We cannot secure our customers’ environments and cannot assume responsibility for that,” he warned.

The warning comes after a bank in Ecuador became the third financial institution to be attacked by hackers using the Swift network, which facilitates currency trading between more than 11,000 banks in 200 countries, losing $12 million.

Investigations into all three cyber attacks are ongoing, but no suspects have yet been formally identified.