The US Federal Reserve detected more than 50 cybersecurity breaches between 2011 and 2015, several of which were described internally as “espionage”, Reuters reported, citing Fed records.
The central bank’s staff suspected hackers or spies in many of the incidents, the records show.
The Fed’s computer systems play a critical role in global banking and hold confidential information on discussions about monetary policy, which drives financial markets.
The cybersecurity reports, obtained by Reuters through a Freedom of Information Act request, were heavily redacted by Fed officials to keep secret the central bank’s security procedures.
The Fed declined to comment, and the redacted records do not say who hacked the bank’s systems or whether they accessed sensitive information or stole money.
“Hacking is a major threat to the stability of the financial system. This data shows why,” said James Lewis, a cybersecurity expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington think tank.
The records represent only a slice of all cyberattacks on the central bank, because they include only cases involving the Fed’s Washington-based board of governors, a federal agency that is subject to public records laws.
Reuters did not have access to reports by local cybersecurity teams at the central bank’s 12 privately owned regional branches.
The disclosure of breaches at the Fed comes at a time when cybersecurity at central banks worldwide is under scrutiny after hackers stole US$81 million from a Bank Bangladesh account at the New York Fed.
Cyberthieves have targeted large financial institutions around the world, including America’s largest bank, JPMorgan Chase & Co.
Hacking attempts were cited in 140 of the 310 reports provided by the Fed’s board.
Four hacking incidents in 2012 were considered acts of “espionage”.
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