Australia and New Zealand (ANZ) Banking group's chief information officer Ann Weatherston has revealed that ANZ is battening down its hatches against the danger posed by hacktivist group Anonymous, after recent threats were levelled against the Australian banking industry.
Speaking at the tenth annual Banktech Summit in Sydney today, making one of her first public appearances since her appointment 18 months ago, Weatherston said that the threat presented by Anonymous is serious, and requires immediate action to ensure the ongoing security of customer data and the preservation of a squeaky clean reputation.
"Security is ... a key focus in terms of reputational risk and the business of hacking financial systems is now a global one. In recent days, we've seen the hacktivist group Anonymous announce that their next target is Australia and New Zealand banks. While this can have a damaging bottom line impact, the real damage is to the reputation of the organisation, and to customer and regulator confidence.
"Bank systems hold customer data, and that data represents customer trust in the bank. We must protect it at all costs," Weatherston said.
Shoring up the bank's defences, Weatherston said, is set to come at a price, but warned that the price of inaction would be much higher, costing the bank its precious reputation in the market.
"[Protecting data] will require increasing levels of annual expenditure, and, indeed, changes to the way in which we design and architect systems. Increasingly, a loss of customer data by any organisation, as we know from the Sony experience, regularly achieves front page news."
Australian Bankers Association chief executive Steven Munchenberg last week said that customers shouldn't be concerned because banks were monitoring for security risks. He said that preventing attacks is an issue that banks are accustomed to dealing with, because the security of customer funds is the "bedrock of any banking business".
Anonymous recently joined forces with now-defunct hacking group LulzSec, uniting under a campaign called "AntiSec", or Anti-Security, designed to expose data from banks and governments. Anonymous members are continuing the campaign despite the disbanding of Lulzsec, with a Sydney council and the New South Wales Electoral Commission already falling victim to data leaks.
Other hacktivist attacks in recent months have included millions of records going missing from Sony, and an ongoing campaign to disrupt the online presence of Mastercard, Visa and PayPal following their financial blockade of Wikileaks.