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Fed Had Dozens of Cyber Breaches in Recent Years, Reuters Says

(Bloomberg) -- The Federal Reserve detected more than 50 breaches of its computer systems from 2011 to 2015, Reuters reported, adding to signs that the central bank may be vulnerable to hackers or spies.

Hacking attempts were cited in 140 of 310 total reports provided by the Fed, and four incidents in 2012 were called acts of “espionage,” Reuters said in an article Wednesday based on Fed records obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request. At least two of the espionage cases resulted in information being disclosed. The Fed’s national cyber security team identified 51 cases of “information disclosure,” Reuters reported.

The documents, later obtained by Bloomberg, span 2,239 pages and are heavily redacted. The records don’t identify hackers or say whether sensitive information was accessed or money was stolen, Reuters said. The Fed didn’t immediately have a comment on the report.

Cyber security at central banks is under increased scrutiny following the theft of more than $80 million from the Bangladesh central bank’s accounts at the New York Fed. The Reuters article covered cases involving the Fed’s Board of Governors in Washington and the news agency didn’t have access to reports from local teams at the 12 regional Fed banks, which include New York.

Theft Briefing

House Science Committee Chairman Lamar Smith, a Texas Republican, on Tuesday sent a letter to New York Federal Reserve President William Dudley asking for a briefing and information related to the February theft. Hackers stole from Bangladesh Bank’s account at the New York Fed, which has said instructions to make the payments were authenticated by the Swift message system that’s widely used by financial institutions.

While acknowledging that the Bangladesh bank’s systems “appear to have been the weak link” in that case, the Smith letter states that it’s Congress’s responsibility to ensure that the New York Fed is “taking all precautions to protect American finances and aggressively execute its own role as overseer of Swift.”

In response to a letter earlier this year from Democratic Representative Carolyn Maloney of New York, New York Fed General Counsel Thomas Baxter said that “there is no evidence of any attempt to penetrate Federal Reserve systems in connection with the payments in question.”

--With assistance from Matthew Boesler. To contact the reporter on this story: Jeanna Smialek in Washington at [email protected] To contact the editors responsible for this story: Carlos Torres at [email protected] Scott Lanman, Sarah McGregor

TAGS: Technology
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