National Crime Agency to feed UK banks real-time cyber-alerts

Financial Crime Alerts Service to launch in 2015

Britain's banks are to start using a new alerting system that will make it easier for a range of police and government agencies to warn its members of cyberattacks and frauds in real time.

Going live in early 2015 in partnership with BAE Systems Applied Intelligence, the Financial Crime Alerts Service (FCAS) cloud portal will be anchored by the National Crime Agency (NCA) with 11 other domestic and international organisations also feeding this information.

The focus of the online system will be cyberattacks and electronic crime on banks but other threat types will include terrorist financing, money laundering, financial fraud, and strategic analysis.

Bank staff will be able to run custom searches through the cloud system as well as receive automatic alerts when specific types of threat data enter the system.

"This alerts system is a powerful new weapon against fraudsters, cyber criminals and other crooks intent on stealing our customers' money," said BBA head, Anthony Browne.

"Receiving real-time alerts from such domestic and international bodies, including the National Crime Agency and 11 other government and law enforcement agencies, will be vital intelligence for the army of staff banks have already hired to combat these threats."

The initiative underlines that the current system of ad hoc alerting, and intelligence-sharing between banks, is too ad hoc to stand up to the level of threat.

The closest thing to information-sharing is probably through the City of London Police's National Fraud Intelligence Bureau, which provided the inspiration for a more advanced service.

"Real-time intelligence, combined with providing the ability for the BBA to share that intelligence in a collaborative manner with all of its members, is vital if the financial services industry is to beat cyber criminals and fraudsters at their own game," said BAE Systems Applied Intelligence managing director, Scott McVicar, whose company will coordinate building the system.

The initiative has received some criticism for being too narrowly focussed.

"These Government departments work for all of us, not just the banks and they should be supporting companies of all sizes as every one of them has a part to play in protecting against security threats. Including every industry/company in an alerts service like this would see the UK taking the lead on information sharing to protect its businesses against new and emerging threats," argued Alan Carter of cloud services firm SecureData.

"Obviously banks and finance are important enough to command the highest levels of protection, but this needs to be the start of something similar that's delivered not just to banks and the large organisations that can afford it but to smaller businesses and industries as well."

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