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‘SWIFT neglected security for years’

Posted by wouter hoeffnagel     August 22, 2016     121 views    
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Managers of the bank messaging system SWIFT admit they suspected SWIFT’s system contained weaknesses for years. Especially SWIFT’s messaging terminals used by smaller banks were thought to be susceptible to cyber attacks. The organization neglected to take measures to increase it’s security, more than a dozen current and former board directors and senior managers of SWIFT admit to press agency Reuters. 

The security of customers terminals has not been a priority at SWIFT. Top executives either did not receive information from member banks about specific hacking attempts or failed to spot those attempts themselves, the managers said. Reuters analyzed SWIFT’s annual reports and strategic plans from the last 17 years, but could only find one reference to SWIFT helping it’s users secure their systems.

‘Board took their eye of the ball’
"The board took their eye off the ball," said Leonard Schrank, who was chief executive of SWIFT from 1992 to 2007, to Reuters. "They were focusing on other things, and not about the fundamental, sacred role of SWIFT, which is the security and reliability of the system." Schrank admits he was broadly aware that users’ terminals were a weak link in SWIFT’s security. "So I am partially responsible," Schrank said.

SWIFT has been criticized in the wake of a large cyber attack in which cybercriminals tried to steal a billion dollar from the central bank of Bangladesh. The attack partially failed, but the attackers still managed to get away with 81 million dollar.