In the aftermath of the tragic events of September 11th, 2001, FBI director Robert Mueller met with the President of the United States and other top officials to discuss steps being taken to find those responsible for the attacks. There, the President asked Mueller a question that caught the newly appointed director off-guard:
“What is the FBI doing to prevent the next terrorist attack?”
Mueller, a former attorney accustomed to confronting crimes – not preventing them – had no answer. In the years that followed, the President’s simple question sparked a realignment of priorities within the FBI to address potential threats before they become reality. The same process is relevant to financial services companies battling a rapid growth in cybercrime.
“The evolution of the Bureau in the wake of 9/11 has some applicability to what we see happening in the cyber space,” said Mueller in his keynote at the Cybersecurity in Financial Services event hosted by Deloitte and BITS this Tuesday at Convene in New York City. The sixth director of the FBI, he began his term a week before 9/11 and served through September 2013.
Rather than primarily focusing on reactive strategy, the FBI now aims to identify particular threats, understand the extent of its knowledge on those threats, and work to collect intelligence against them. Counter-terrorism, counter-intelligence and cyber initiatives have taken precedence, he explained.
Mueller discussed lessons learned as the Bureau increased its preventive efforts, many of which are sound advice for financial services institutions protecting their organizations against cyber attacks. Just as the FBI must stay ahead of criminals and terrorists, banks and insurers must anticipate and address security breaches.
“There has not been sufficient focus on protecting that which needs to be protected,” said Mueller of cybersecurity strategy in financial services. “Assume a breach [will occur] – what will you do to address a series of breaches?”
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Kelly Sheridan is the Staff Editor at Dark Reading, where she focuses on cybersecurity news and analysis. She is a business technology journalist who previously reported for InformationWeek, where she covered Microsoft, and Insurance & Technology, where she covered financial ... View Full Bio