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Cyber attackers could target world’s financial markets - report

The new report, ‘The Evolving Advanced Cyber Threat to Financial Markets’ is available for financial services organisations to download, here: It follows the SWIFT/BAE 2017 report, 'The Evolving Cyber Threat to the Banking Community’ which gives a detailed report for SWIFT customers that outlines attack techniques and counter measures.

The new joint study examined cyber threats across global financial markets and concluded that, “Securities market is one of the most at-risk areas, while trade finance is also under

Threat” which is due to the large number of participants and infrastructures, as well as the complex interactions involved. Weaknesses can be unknowingly introduced by traders, brokers, investors, other stakeholders – and the systems that all of these participants use. The study also shows how the foreign exchange and trade finance markets are also at risk.

The report, entitled The Evolving Advanced Cyber Threat to Financial Markets, analyses the changing threat landscape and explores how the financial sector is exposed to a range of emerging cyber security challenges. 

In an effort to help participants combat cyber fraud, SWIFT launched its Customer Security Programme (CSP) in 2016. This programme has helped its customers across the payments, securities, trade finance and foreign exchange sectors implement security controls identified as critical to defending against, detecting and recovering from cyber attacks. But with cyber threats evolving and criminals increasingly looking for ways to steal large sums of money at speed, financial organisations are being urged to be more vigilant, and take further steps to address the vulnerabilities outlined in this report.

Main recommendations

Among the main recommendations proposed are:

  • Securities participants should embrace the value of checks, communication and data to support pre- and post-trade activities and stave off cyber threats.
  • Securities market infrastructures need to collaborate with participants to identify risks in common practices to jointly defend market operations.
  • Banking and payments participants must continue to strengthen security controls while building in protection for upstream systems.
  • Trade finance participants are encouraged to review and manage areas of inherent trust, which are at risk of cyber exploitation.

Comments included:

Brett Lancaster, Managing Director, Global Head of Customer Security at SWIFT


  • “Over recent years, SWIFT has made good progress supporting financial institutions in their fight against well-organised cyber attackers – but this report shows that now is not the time to sit back and take the this progress for granted.”
  • “As cyber criminals become ever more innovative and agile, we need to continue to work together to build even stronger defences. Through our Customer Security Programme, we have been assisting the payments, securities, trade finance and foreign exchange sectors to better protect their immediate surroundings, and have facilitated better information sharing to help equip the industry with the tools it needs to combat cyber crimes. This report is a timely reminder that we need to go further still to keep ahead of the criminals.”

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