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Kelly Sheridan
Kelly Sheridan
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Cybersecurity Lessons from Former FBI Director

Robert Mueller describes how security initiatives within the Bureau are applicable to financial services.

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.

[ 5 Ways Insurers Can Expand Analytics Use. ]

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?”

Read the full story on Insurance & Technology


Kelly is an associate editor for InformationWeek. She most recently reported on financial tech for Insurance & Technology, before which she was a staff writer for InformationWeek and InformationWeek Education. When she's not catching up on the latest in tech, Kelly enjoys ... View Full Bio
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Becca L
Becca L,
User Rank: Author
6/29/2014 | 7:24:19 PM
Hit the Ground Running
This was a fascinating Keynote. Robert Mueller started one week before 9/11, so talk about hitting the ground running. Under his watch the FBI transformed dramatically, and it was forced to address these difficult, never before asked questions. Today, government agencies rely on Big Data in a big way, so FinServ has a lot to learn from their actions.   In the end, all industries arguably face the same problems, just by different players and different nomenclature.
User Rank: Author
6/30/2014 | 4:32:13 PM
Re: Hit the Ground Running
It really was! Mueller was a great speaker and it was interesting to hear him talk about how the FBI changed to focus on preventing attacks. Its evolution could definitely serve as a model for financial services companies as the industry continues to leverage big data and prevent cybercrime.  
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