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Banks Strive for Security Awareness with $2M Contract from Treasury

The FS/ISAC received a Treasury contract to disseminate information to bankers in case of emergency. And the FSSCC hopes to make sure that bankers will be ready to act upon such a message.

To enhance the security awareness of the nation's banks, the U.S. Department of the Treasury has awarded a $2 million contract to the Financial Services Information Sharing and Analysis Center (FS/ISAC).

The award will go towards providing its industry members with secure collaboration, additional data feeds regarding threats and vulnerabilities, alert confirmation, new analytical capabilities, and performance metrics. "Our research convinced us that the FS/ISAC must make significant investments to upgrade its technological infrastructure if it is to serve the entire sector and deliver a product that would elicit ongoing, private-sector support," remarked Brian Roseboro, Acting Under Secretary of the Treasury for Domestic Finance.

With the help of third-party service provider SAIC, the FS/ISAC allows bankers to anonymously share information about both cyber- and physical threats. Indeed, that's where "the industry will get the immediate bang for the buck," says Breffni McGuire, senior analyst at TowerGroup (Needham, Mass.)

But in order to maintain a healthy banking system, the industry can't just receive timely alerts--it has to act upon them in a timely fashion.

That's where the industry-owned Financial Services Sector Coordinating Council (FSSCC) comes in. The FSSCC's membership consists of trade associations, institutes and utilities in the banking world, rather than the individual banks themselves. Acting on their members' behalf, the FSSCC representatives will help to coordinate sector-wide initiatives in specific market segments within financial services.

The FSSCC may also prove to be a important conduit for coordinating comments on statutes published for comment by the Department of Homeland Security, taking a broad, industry-wide perspective. "The FSSCC can coordinate comments that they get from their constituents, much like the ABA might do," says McGuire. "There's an opportunity to influence policy and also benefit from some of those policies."

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