Big Banks Want Power to Declare Cyber War

Merger of Big Banks and National Security Power … What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

from Bloomberg reports Wall Street’s biggest trade group has proposed a
government-industry cyber war council to stave off terrorist attacks
that could trigger financial panic by temporarily wiping out account
, according to an internal document. 

The proposal by the Securities Industry and Financial Markets
Association, known as SIFMA, calls for a committee of executives and
deputy-level representatives from at least eight U.S. agencies including
the Treasury Department, the National Security Agency and the
Department of Homeland Security, all led by a senior White House

The trade association also reveals in the document that SIFMA has
retained former NSA director Keith Alexander to “facilitate” the joint
effort with the government. Alexander, in turn, has brought in Michael
Chertoff, the former U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security, and his firm,
Chertoff Group.

Caitlin Hayden, spokeswoman for the White House National Security Council, declined to comment.

[Just-retired NSA Boss General Keith] Alexander had been pitching SIFMA
and other bank trade associations to purchase his services through his
new consulting firm, IronNet Cybersecurity Inc., for as much as $1
million per month, according to two people briefed on the talks.

Representative Alan Grayson, a Florida Democrat, said today he was
concerned that industry members in such a joint group could improperly
get involved in pre-emptive strikes against a person or state planning an assault on the U.S.

“This could in effect make the banks part of what would begin to look
like a war council,”
Grayson said in an e-mail. “Congress needs to keep
an eye on what something like this could mean.”

Congressman Grayson tweets:

Ex-NSA chief Keith Alexander wants to form a joint WH-bank war council. So now Wall Street gets to declare war?

There is cause for concern, given the following context:

  • Cyber war may lead to a shooting war. For example, Scientific American notes:

Department of Defense announcements that they intend to view cyber attacks as “acts of war” suggest a military force nearly itching to flex its muscle in response to a serious computer network–based disruption, if only as a means of deterrence.

Concerns about overreaction and the use of military force in response
to digital intrusions often lead to discussions about the difficulty
surrounding definitive attribution of these types of attack. If you want
to retaliate, how do you know whom to hit? In our exercise intelligence
pointed to Russia, but the evidence wasn’t clear-cut.


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