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Banks more worried about hackers than pandemics, survey finds

·2-min read

Concerns over cyber attacks have overtaken both Brexit and pandemics to become the thing banks and other financial institutions are the most worried about.

A new Bank of England survey has shown that nearly three quarters of respondents were worried about cybersecurity.

Participants were asked to name the five risks they thought could have the biggest impact on the UK’s financial system.

Cyber attacks raised more concerns than geopolitical risk, which was mentioned by 59% of respondents, risk from pandemics, mentioned by 57%, and operation risks including climate change, which worried 48% of respondents.

The results came from a survey usually performed by the Bank of England twice a year, but which has not been published since before the pandemic.

Interest rates
The Bank of England in the City of London (Yui Mok/PA)

Prior to Covid-19 “UK political risk” had been the biggest worry, at over 90% on several occasions since the 2016 referendum. This has now dropped to 40%.

However, despite the worry around cyber attacks, pandemics were still the most likely to be named as a respondent’s number one concern. In total 38% of those responding put it as their main risk, followed by cyber attacks on 19%, inflation and UK political risk.

Cyber problems have become increasingly worrying in recent months. Earlier this week Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp were down for several hours.

The company denied the outage was the result of a cyber attack, but many others have fallen victim to such attacks, including Sony, British Airways and Apple.

Earlier this year the Bank of England called for measures to protect against problems using cloud services.

There has been an increasing trend among big banks and other financial firms to outsource services to Amazon, Google, Microsoft and others.

This could pose a threat to financial stability, the Bank said.

Earlier this year the outage of a US-based cloud provider, Fastly, made the websites of Spotify, Reddit and Twitter close down temporarily.

The Bank’s survey included responses from UK banks and building societies, large foreign banks, asset managers, hedge funds, insurers, pension funds, large non-financial companies and central counterparties.

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