Bank of America tech chief says cyberattacks have surged ‘dramatically’

Bank of America is devoting more resources to fighting cyberattacks after seeing a jump in threats amid the pandemic.

The company’s centralized global information-security unit has boosted spending in recent years to about $1 billion annually, according to chief operations and technology officer Cathy Bessant. That’s mostly allocated to staff and technology to bolster cyberdefenses. The lender is constantly assessing threats from individuals, groups and governments, and is also scanning the horizon to protect itself against an “Armageddon scenario,” she said.

“Criminals are by definition very crafty, very entrepreneurial —

and times of stress produce opportunities,” Bessant told journalists during a virtual briefing Monday. “There’s no question that the rate and pace of attacks, and the nature of attacks, has grown dramatically.”

Banks, brokers, insurers and other finance companies have ramped up spending on cybersecurity for at least four years as services move online and attacks escalate. Cyber spending jumped 15% in 2020, according to a Deloitte & Touche survey. That equates to almost $1 billion for each of the largest U.S. banks.

The pandemic accounted for some of that increase, forcing firms to bolster defenses as staff worked from home and as more customers embraced online products and services. About 64% of finance executives expect cybersecurity budgets to keep rising, a separate Deloitte survey showed.

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