WASHINGTON, July 16 The hundreds of cyberattacks
against U.S. banks and other institutions in recent years
represent a targeted attempt to more broadly disrupt the U.S.
financial system, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew said on Wednesday.
In remarks on CNBC, Lew did not single out a suspected
country or organization behind the attacks, but said they held
the potential to cause massive economic damage if "core
operational functions" of major financial institutions were
Coupled with attacks on companies and utilities, "an
incursion at a strategic point along the network could lead to
market disruption and massive harm," Lew said at a conference
sponsored by CNBC and Institutional Investor.
Treasury's top official urged companies to set aside
concerns about reputational damage and more promptly disclose
security breaches, and also work more closely with the
government and each other to prevent such attacks.
He also called on Congress to pass cybersecurity legislation
clarifying liability and other rules that would allow companies
"to collaborate responsibly" in protecting networks.
The Obama administration and Congress have clashed over
legislation meant to allow companies to exchange more
cybersecurity-related information with each other and the
government. The White House has objected to versions of a bill
that it feels did not adequately protect against the sharing of
information about individuals.
(Reporting by Howard Schneider; Editing by Susan Heavey)