Standards, Increased Communication Essential To Preventing Cyber Attacks

April 05, 2012

Roundtable Discussion Hosted by Georgetown McDonough and Booz Allen Hamilton Yield Recommendations for Addressing Cyber Threats

Consumer confidence, information sharing, and security standards were among the topics addressed by information security leaders from the financial services industry during the roundtable discussion on “Cybersecurity Threats in Financial Services,” hosted February 21, 2012, by the Center for Financial Markets and Policy at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business and Booz Allen Hamilton.
“As we continue to rely more heavily on technology, being able to protect essential data from cyber threats has become a priority for the financial services sector,” said Reena Aggarwal, professor of finance and director of the Georgetown Center for Financial Markets and Policy. “A distinguished group of academic scholars, policy makers, and industry experts had a productive discussion that led to a set of recommendations.”
“We’re finally starting to see a shift in the way the industry is approaching these threats. For too long, people assumed if you put up the right walls everything would be fine,” said Booz Allen Senior Vice President Bill Wansley. “People are starting to realize that detecting and responding to intrusions must become a core capability.”
Issues and recommendations identified by the group, which comprised both public and private sector leaders, included:
·         Distinguishing legitimate threats from hype. While they agreed that threats like the one by the  hactivist group Anonymous to take down the Internet on March 31 are most likely a publicity stunt, the group felt that the industry has too few resources to sift through all of the threats to determine which were legitimate. They agreed that the greatest threats to the financial system are those that compromise the integrity of financial data or lead to a widespread loss of confidence.
·         Protecting smaller financial institutions. While big banks have the resources to upgrade their abilities to thwart cyber attacks, smaller community banks are more vulnerable and have a greater possibility of having their commercial accounts wiped out.
·         Sharing information. The panel was nearly unanimous in its assessment that information sharing holds the most promise for addressing cyber security attacks in the financial services sector, where a recent analysis showed that it had the least overlap (about 1 percent) between what public and private officials knew about current advanced persistent threats and other activities.
·         Creating uniform security standards. Participants applauded pending legislation before Congress that would create a mandatory reporting standard for data breaches that exceed a certain threshold.
·         Addressing escalating costs. Banks are spending more resources than ever before to protect their networks from impending threats.
About Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business
Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business is a premier business school located at the center of world politics and business in Washington, D.C. Some 1,400 undergraduates, 1,000 MBA students, and 1,200 participants in executive education programs study business with an intensive focus on leadership and a global perspective. Founded in 1957, the business school today resides in the new Rafik B. Hariri Building, a state-of-the-art facility that blends the tradition of Georgetown University with forward-thinking functionality. For more information about Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business, visit
About The Georgetown Center for Financial Markets and Policy
The Georgetown Center for Financial Markets and Policy provides innovative and impactful thought leadership for global financial markets.The Center hosts dialogues, conferences, and events, and plays a leading role in the creation and dissemination of relevant and rigorous research on critical policy and regulatory issues. Learn more at
About Booz Allen Hamilton
Booz Allen Hamilton is a leading provider of management and technology consulting services to the U.S. government in defense, intelligence, and civil markets, and to major corporations, institutions, and not-for-profit organizations. Booz Allen is headquartered in McLean, Virginia, employs more than 25,000 people, and had revenue of $5.59 billion for the 12 months ended March 31, 2011 (NYSE: BAH).