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National Security Agency helps banks battle hackers

(Reuters) - The National Security Agency, a secretive arm of the U.S. military, has begun providing Wall Street banks with intelligence on foreign hackers, a sign of growing U.S. fears of financial sabotage.

The assistance from the agency that conducts electronic spying overseas is part of an effort by American banks and other financial firms to get help from the U.S. military and private defense contractors to fend off cyber attacks, according to interviews with U.S. officials, security experts and defense industry executives.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation has also warned banks of particular threats amid concerns that hackers could potentially exploit security vulnerabilities to wreak havoc across global markets and cause economic mayhem.

While government and private sector security sources are reluctant to discuss specific lines of investigations, they paint worst-case scenarios of hackers ensconcing themselves inside a bank's network to disable trading systems for stocks, bonds and currencies, trigger flash crashes, initiate large transfers of funds or turn off all ATM machines. More...

10-26-2011 16:33