United Against Global Cybercrime

Experts Support Obama Strategy to Fight International Threats

By , July 28, 2011.
United Against Global Cybercrime

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The fight against cyberattacks is a top priority for financial institutions, and industry insiders are optimistic about President Obama's plan to thwart cyberattacks that lead to corporate account takeover and other forms of fraud.

Earlier this week, the White House issued a plan to fight internationally-funded organized crime. The primary target: transnational cybercrime. [See Obama Vows to Battle Int'l Cybercrime.]

"During the past 15 years, technological innovation and globalization have proven to be an overwhelming force for good," Obama said during his announcement of the strategy. "However, transnational criminal organizations have taken advantage of our increasingly interconnected world to expand their illicit enterprises."

The strategy's 56 priorities include enhancing intelligence and information sharing, as well as protecting the nation's financial system and strategic market against transnational organized crime.

Peter Cassidy of the Anti-Phishing Working Group says government acknowledgment of growing cyberthreats is timely. "The attempt to weave a policy initiative to address transnational organized crime in one package is timely and very useful, placing a lot of elements on the workbench that need to be engaged comprehensively instead of piece by piece," he says. "This is especially important in the case of cybercrime because resources to address it are so remote from each other, much of them in industry and some in government, some spread among NGOs, standards bodies and in academia."

Getting the government involved is the only real way to fight international threats, especially in the financial realm.

Paul Buelens, head of product management and compliance for EastNets, a global banking solutions provider that specializes in anti-fraud and compliance, says international cybercrimes are difficult to fight. Information sharing among financial institutions, international governments and global law enforcement agencies is the problem.

But Beulens says the new Obama initiative shows promise; getting the government's attention is a step in the right direction.

"It's very important that these crimes are recognized and combated at a government level," Buelens says. "The money trail needs to be followed diligently. After every arrest, it's important that a financial investigation on each person be done in order to track the flow of money involved in crimes."

Government's Role

Concerns over cybercrimes in the financial space are in the spotlight. On June 28, the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council issued its latest authentication guidance, a supplement to its 2005 online authentication guidance, which specifically addresses online banking fraud.

Jeff Kopchik, senior policy analyst with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., says layered security and customer education are critical to the fight against financial cybercrimes - crimes that too often result in identity theft and incidents of ACH fraud. But so is regulatory oversight.

"We just want to encourage banks to educate their customers about what they can do to make sure they're secure," Kopchik says.

The FFIEC, which compromises all of the federal banking regulatory agencies, has to date been the only governmental force to actively provide guidance and support for financial-services providers in the fight against cyberattacks.

That, however, changes with Obama's announcement.

The Obama strategy calls for more active involvement from the government in the fight against transnational-organized-crime networks. The administration also calls for the establishment of an international capacity to forensically exploit and judicially process digital evidence.

"The government involvement is key, as privacy laws are now being bypassed," Beulens says. "The governing body chosen for combating cybercrime should surpass local laws and legislation and be linked directly with anti-corruption initiatives."

Follow Tracy Kitten on Twitter: @FraudBlogger

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