According to a Reuters report, the Fed’s staff believed many of the security breaches were the work of hackers or spies. Reuters obtained reports on the Fed’s cyber security through a Freedom of Information Act request.
The Fed wouldn’t comment on the records, according to Reuters, and the heavily redacted records didn’t say who hacked the central bank’s systems or whether any money or sensitive information was stolen.
According to Reuters, the records show only a small fraction of all cyber attacks on the Fed, since they deal only with cases involving the Washington-based Board of Governors. Reuters didn’t have access to records at the Fed’s 12 privately owned regional branches, which aren’t subject to public records requests.
The security of central banks’ systems has become a topic of conversation following the recent theft by hackers of $81 million from a Bank Bangladesh account at the New York Fed.
In eight of the breaches uncovered by Reuters, Fed staff wrote that “malicious code” was found. Four hacking incidents in 2012 were considered to be espionage. In at least two of those incidents, hackers successfully accessed information. The records didn’t indicate whether there was a successful breach in the other two incidents, according to Reuters. It was unclear if those attacks involved foreign governments.
Two former Fed employees, who asked to remain anonymous, told Reuters that cyber attacks were about as common at the Fed as at any large financial institution.
The Federal Reserve detected more than 50 cyber security breaches between 2011 and 2015 – with several breaches described as “espionage.”