Top Concerns for Banks: Cybersecurity and Anti-Money Laundering

The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) recently released its semi-annual risk report that highlights the credit, operational and compliance risks that can pose a threat to the federal banking system.  This report is intended to be used as a resource for banks to identify key concerns that they should look out for and in this month’s report, cybersecurity and anti-money laundering (AML) were among the OCC’s top concerns.

Banks are not only threatened by cyber attacks from criminals trying to gain account information and access to internal processes, but those cyber threats are constantly increasing in sophistication and speed so banks must in turn ensure that their cybersecurity procedures also evolve and adapt.  The OCC called for banks to be watchful of possible issues such as risks that arise from learning to adapt to new business models, transforming technology, and respond to increasing cybersecurity threats.  The OCC also mentions the danger of phishing, which is a primary method for breaching systems and often leads to other malicious activity, including espionage.

According to the OCC, banks are not “refining or updating” their Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) compliance programs which can make them vulnerable, because they are not remaining updated with changing technologies.  Banks should be prepared for the new BSA regulations regarding beneficial ownership and customer due diligence, which are due to become effective on May 11, 2018 and will help banks become less vulnerable to money laundering and terrorism financing.

Although enforcement actions against banks due to failures in risk management systems and controls, oversight, and appropriate governance have declined since a high in 2009, banks must still continue to improve their risk management and financial practices.


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