UK banks ordered to review security after SWIFT attack

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UK banks ordered to review security after SWIFT attack

Bank of England demands compliance checks.

The Bank of England has ordered the UK's banks to detail the steps they have taken to secure computers connected to the SWIFT international banking payments network, according to people familiar with the effort.

The UK central bank sent the request for an update on cyber security measures to all banks it regulates in mid-to-late April, according to the sources, who were not authorised to discuss the confidential communications.

The request comes after the Bangladesh government-appointed panel investigating the theft of US$81 million (A$112.3 million) from the country's central bank found SWIFT committed a number of mistakes in connecting a local network.

The attackers installed malware inside the bank's Dhaka headquarters that hid traces of their attack in a bid to delay discovery so they could access the funds, according to police and private security firms.

One source said the Bank of England instructed banks to conduct a "compliance check" to confirm whether they are following security practices recommended by SWIFT, which the firm recently reissued to members in the wake of the February heist.

The checks called for by the Bank of England include conducting user entitlement reviews, which ensure that only authorised staff have access to SWIFT applications and the service's messaging gateway.

Banks were also told to review computer logs for indicators of compromise, including IP addresses and email addresses linked to recent attacks.

Those indicators include technical details included in reports from several private cyber security firms, including Britain's BAE Systems.

The communication from the Bank of England asked banks to respond by early May and to provide details about plans for installing an update to SWIFT's Alliance Access software, according to the source The messaging group last month released the update and asked members to install it by May 16.

The previously unreported action marks the earliest known case of a central bank in a major economy ordering its member banks to conduct a formal security review in response to the Bangladesh theft, which has shaken the global system for transferring money among both commercial and central banks.

The Bank of England, which is one of the G10 central banks that oversee Brussels-based SWIFT, declined to comment.

Meanwhile, Sweden's Riksbank yesterday called on all users of the central bank's RIX payments system to follow the SWIFT recommendations, a central bank spokesman said.

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