Ransomware Attack on ICBC Financial Services Raises Concerns Among Regulators and Senior US and Chinese Officials

A ransomware attack on a US unit of the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC), the world’s largest bank by assets, has sent shockwaves through the financial sector. The attack on ICBC Financial Services, a subsidiary of ICBC, has raised concerns among regulators and senior US and Chinese officials, and led to a flurry of behind-the-scenes coordination with the affected bank and across the financial sector about the threat.

The attack is a significant escalation for cybercriminals, and has underscored how big hacks can disrupt business for even the best-resourced companies. The financial sector, and particularly its big banks, has long been considered one of the better defended sectors of the global economy from hacks. However, the threat of ransomware, which has touched virtually every sector of the economy, has posed new challenges to financial institutions’ cyber defenses.

FS-ISAC, an industry group for sharing cyberthreat intelligence composed of big banks around the world, has been sharing data on the attack with its members and reminding them “to stay current on all protective measures and patch critical vulnerabilities immediately.” Intelligence sharing around cyberattacks like this is “critical,” the spokesperson said, “given the potential for disrupting system availability.

The brazen ransomware attack on ICBC Financial Services has put the financial sector on alert. The incident has underscored how big hacks can disrupt business for even the best-resourced companies, and has highlighted the need for financial institutions to continue to invest in their cyber defenses.

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