The online banking sites of major US banks, like JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America, Wells Fargo and Citigroup have repeatedly been the victims of disruptive cyber attacks over the last year. In an unprecedented move, the FBI recently gave temporary security clearances to dozens of U.S. bank executives to brief them on the investigation into the attacks.
The clearances are a move forward after years of discussion about the need for increased cooperation between the public and private sectors on cybersecurity. In February President Obama issued an executive order calling for expedited security clearances for the executives.
Previously, banks had been reluctant about cooperating with law enforcement. Because of the rarity of international arrests or serious talks with nations such as China or Russia, where many of these attacks originate, many companies have felt that cooperation was not worth exposing the issue and risking negative media attention and concern from stockholders.
The attacks, which may have originated in Iran, are among the most serious attacks in recent years, costing banks millions to get their services back online and potentially exposing the private information of their customers.
National Security Agency Director Keith Alexander was recently quoted, saying that the massive theft of intellectual property by China and other countries amounts to the largest transfer of wealth in history.