House subcommittee hearing looks at how to better protect data from cyberattacks

Data security vulnerabilities in federal and state security regulations were examined in a hearing this week by the House Subcommittee on Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit.

Lawmakers need to work to identify gaps in security to protect against cyberattacks and enhance efforts by financial institutions to safeguard consumers’ financial data, subcommittee chairman Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-MO) said.

“More than 15 million Americans were victims of cyber fraud or identity theft last year,” Luetkemeyer said. “While data security has been a hot topic since the latest breach, Equifax isn’t where the problem started and if we don’t act, it isn’t where the problem will end. With each attack more dangerous and more advanced than the last, it is crucial that every aspect of data security is examined.”

The chairman said lawmakers need to reduce red tape, create standards, and foster harmonization among federal and state agencies on data security.

Kenneth Bentsen, president and CEO of the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association, said cybercrime is a larger criminal enterprise than the global narcotics trade.

“The financial services industry is a top target facing tens of thousands of attacks each day,” Bentsen said. “While data breaches of customer information dominate headlines, and are an appropriate concern for policymakers, a major cyberattack on critical financial market infrastructure or one that destroys records and financial data, is a risk with a potentially far larger impact on the economy. While regulation and supervision of cyber preparedness has an important role in the collective cyber defense effort, the emergence of many regulations from multiple regulators may lead to a suboptimal balance of industry resources devoted to compliance versus security.”

Daniel Mennenoh, president of H.B. Wilkinson Title Company, said this is not a problem the industry can fix on its own.

“What is so frustrating is that there is no amount of money we can spend to protect our consumers from being targeted by these criminals,” he said. “The only thing that will help is to increase awareness so that our customers can help protect themselves.”

Debra Schwartz, president and CEO of Mission Federal Credit Union, said we have reached a tipping point on this issue.

“NAFCU (National Association of Federally Insured Credit Unions) member credit unions and the 110 million credit union members across the country are looking to Congress to address data security issues and move forward with meaningful legislation that will make a difference to consumers,” she said.