Financial services firms are facing an onslaught of cyberattacks and fraud that could pose a major threat to their ability to compete.
The ombudsman for the financial industry says the financial services industry needs to get ready to fight the growing threat, and it’s up to regulators to put the industry on the right path.
Ombudsman Elizabeth M. O’Brien spoke with CNNMoney’s Erin Burnett about the cyberattacks on financial institutions and how they could be damaging to the industry’s reputation and ability to function.
What do you think are the most important changes that should be made to the way the financial sector operates?
O’BRIEN: The industry needs a lot of work to make sure that they are secure and their processes are safe, but I think that the fundamental change is that it needs to be regulated.
The industry has been regulated for so long, and there is so much that regulators are saying, “We’re going to do a lot more to protect the industry.”
That’s what we need to do.
The regulators are going to have to get up and step up to that responsibility.
And then we also need to work on what is going on in the financial market.
I think it’s really important that the regulators get up to speed on this, so that they understand the risks.
We need to understand what is happening in the marketplace, so we can make informed decisions and protect the consumer.
Have you seen the impact of the recent cyberattacks?
OBEY: I think they’ve hit a lot.
There are a lot fewer people that are going through the process.
They’re just sitting in front of the computer screen.
There’s so much uncertainty that has to be put into place for financial services providers to stay secure.
I’m hoping that the banks and the other banks and credit unions, they’re going have to make that change.
How can consumers protect themselves?
OBRIES: One of the most critical things that we need in the industry is that consumers have confidence in their financial information.
I have heard from people who say, “I know everything is going to be OK, I just need to make an appointment.”
And that is not what the industry needs.
Consumers should be able to trust that they’re safe and that they can trust their bank or credit union, that they know what they’re getting into.
So consumers need to be able for that to be a reality, and they need to know that they have confidence that the information they’re receiving is going through a safe, secure environment.
I don’t think we have that right now.
So what consumers need is for their financial institutions to be accountable for what is being provided.
They should have an automated system that monitors the data being sent to them.
It should not be a matter of them trusting their bank, trusting their credit union.
They need to have a system that has an automated process where they have the ability to see what’s going on, to make a decision about what to do, to stop that.
That should be an automatic process, not something that’s going to happen every single day.
So I think consumers need more trust.
Are there any other industries that are facing cyberattacks that could be a problem?
OBAY: It’s a very serious problem that needs to come to a halt.
There is a lot to be done in the cybersecurity space.
We have to put more resources into it.
We should have more tools in place to prevent these kinds of attacks.
But at the same time, we need better cybersecurity.
We want to make the Internet safer, but we also want to protect people from these kinds.
That means that we should have a lot smarter tools in our system to prevent people from using these kinds that have been identified.
I hope that we will have that, but it’s not there yet.
What can we do about this?
We need more education about cybercrime, we want to have more of a culture of cybersecurity, and we also have to do more to make it more transparent.
But I think we also, as we have seen, there are some things that can be done to protect consumers.
And I think there is some momentum going on to try to get that done.
Is there a way to get the financial system to better protect the consumers?
We’re trying to make things safer for our consumers.
We’ve put in place some things like a cybersecurity code of conduct that is mandatory for all financial institutions.
And we’re looking at a whole bunch of different tools to make them easier for the consumers to do the things that they need.
We are going all the way from the consumer side to the consumer, consumer protection side, to the regulatory side, and ultimately the government side, because the consumer is the one who is most vulnerable.
So we need that.
And that’s something that is in the best interest of the consumers, and that’s why we