Treasury Committee chair Andrew Tyrie calls for one-stop watchdog to fight cyber crime, warning current system is too "opaque"

 
Hayley Kirton
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"It is essential that the intelligence community, regulators and wider government are coordinated in making sure that financial cyber crime has a high priority," Tyrie said (Source: Getty)

The chair of the Treasury Select Committee is today calling on the government to setup a one-stop watchdog to tackle financial cyber crime.

Andrew Tyrie has written to chancellor Philip Hammond, warning the current lines of accountability for cyber security for the sector are too "opaque".

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"It is essential that the intelligence community, regulators and wider government are coordinated in making sure that financial cyber crime has a high priority, and is not subordinate to other work," Tyrie said of his letter.

"Such a lack of coordination will inevitably lead to greater opportunities for criminals to exploit vulnerabilities in the banking industry's IT systems. They are already under frequent attack.

"A single point of responsibility for cyber risk in the financial services sector – with a direct line of accountability to a single official, in turn accountable to a single minister, such as the chancellor – is now required."‚Äč

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Tyrie wrote to the chief executive of the National Cyber Security Centre in December, calling on him to ensure finance is treated as "high priority". The Tory MP asked for a single person within the organisation to be given oversight for the issue with a direct reporting line to the Treasury.

Hammond responded to this letter, reassuring Tyrie "there is a strong system of governance in place" to make sure the agencies in charge of overseeing cyber crime in finance are coordinated.

Over the last two years, a number of banks have suffered attacks on their IT systems, including RBS, HSBC and Barclays.

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However, one of the most recent cyber breaches involved Tesco Bank. Last November, the challenger was forced to suspend some of its services and pay out £2.5m to approximately 9,000 of its 136,000 current account customers, after a number of people had their accounts hacked and money taken without their permission.

Tyrie has already spoken with Tesco Bank chief exec Benny Higgins about the incident.

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Tyrie's calls come just one week after the Treasury revealed it would be setting up a new watchdog to oversee anti-money laundering. The rationale given for the new agency was the crime was currently being policed by too many bodies, created exploitable holes in the system.

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