Mark Carney: 'Assume failure' in cyber attacks on banks

Bank of England governor Mark Carney. Photo: REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann
Bank of England governor Mark Carney. Photo: REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann

The governor of the Bank of England said the UK’s financial sector had to “assume failure” in cyber attacks as he urged organisations to plan for the growing threat.

Mark Carney warned against “complacency” at a panel of business and political chiefs Thursday at the World Economic Forum (WEF) summit in Davos, Switzerland.

He also used the appearance to say there was no “magical level of interest rates” the central bank was trying to return to, and declined to confirm if he would extend his term beyond January 2020 if Brexit were delayed.

Asked about increased cyber-security risks in finance, Carney said, “What’s quite important here is planning for failure. Assume failure. It’s one thing bondholders in banks have to think about. They are going to be bailed in.

“One of things we’ve started working on with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and Financial Stability Board is — assume a successful cyber attack. How quickly can you get back up and running? How will you? What are the mechanisms?”

“Planning for failure is hugely important.”

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Carney also declined to comment on whether he would extend his term if Brexit ends up being delayed.

“I’m prepared to stay around for another 5 minutes and 8 seconds, which is what the clock says,” Carney joked, referring to the time remaining at the discussion, according to Reuters.

Carney helped co-ordinate a one-day simulated attack to test resilience against cyber-threats in November last year, with 40 firms in the UK financial industry taking part.

Research by the WEF released ahead of this week’s summit suggested cyber attacks against businesses had almost doubled over the past five years.

Microsoft president Brad Smith warned earlier Thursday at Davos that attacks by organised crime groups were becoming “more prolific and sophisticated.”

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