Banks Play Down Cyber Attack Levels

A parliamentary committee has been told that banks are under reporting cyber attacks because they don't want to scare customers.

A researcher from the University of Cambridge told a treasury committee that the amount of money being taken from peoples' accounts through cyber crime is twice as much as reported.

In a meeting about the treatment of customers by finance firms, Dr Richard Clayton, a senior researcher in security economics at the University of Cambridge said: "Insiders tell me the going rate is about twice the amount of money [reported by banks] goes walkies out of people's accounts."

He said banks tend to keep it secret, because a lot of criminal activity is recovered.

A senior security professional in the banking sector said banks are constantly being attacked by cyber criminals and yet they tend to play down this level of cyber crime.

He said: "I think it is true that the banks choose very carefully how they report cyber crime for exactly that reason. The financial service industry relies on confidence in the system so anything that worries customers can hurt.

"It is not something the banks share internally either. Even reasonably senior level IT staff I don't even hear about the incidents banks may or may not suffer."

The chairman of the parliamentary committee, Andrew Tyrie said he would raise this issue with banks and regulators.

He said: "The committee today heard that the amount of fraud reported by banks may substantially understate the true scale of the problem. This is concerning.

"I will be writing to the banks and regulators to obtain a fuller picture on this issue."

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