Cyber Risk

Mexican banks warned to be on alert for cyber attacks

A man holds a laptop computer as cyber code is projected on him in this illustration picture taken on May 13, 2017. Capitalizing on spying tools believed to have been developed by the U.S. National Security Agency, hackers staged a cyber assault with a self-spreading malware that has infected tens of thousands of computers in nearly 100 countries. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel/Illustration

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexico’s financial authorities on Friday warned local banks to be on alert for potential cyber attacks and to strengthen security systems, activating protocols established in the wake of recent bank hacks.

Mexico’s central bank, Finance Ministry and banking regulator said in a statement that the measure is preventative, and that the country’s financial system is functioning normally.

The statement did not detail the reason behind the alert.

Mexican authorities on Thursday had detected the threat of a potential cyber attack to occur the next day, said a financial official with knowledge of the matter who requested anonymity because he was not authorized to speak with the press.

In May, the central bank said a cyber attack had tapped into payment system connections at five entities, sucking out around 300 million pesos ($15.33 million).

Mexico’s attorney general along with financial authorities and associations formed an “Immediate Response Group,” meant to coordinate fast alerts on information security incidents.

“This type of communication with financial entities will be part of the habitual operation of the system,” the financial authorities said in their Friday statement, referring to the multi-entity effort.

Mexican cryptocurrency exchange platform Bitso on Thursday reported that earlier that day it had detected a cyber attack and went into contingency mode, including halting fundings and withdrawals. All user funds were “safe and intact,” it said.

It was not clear if Bitso’s incident was related to the Friday security warning.