Sheltered Harbor: Financial Sector Launches Industrywide Data-Protection Effort

The Sheltered Harbor initiative, launched by the Financial Services Information Sharing and Analysis Center, aims to preserve service even in the case of a cyberattack that destroys data.

The Equifax incident earlier this year simply underlined what many in the financial sector already knew: Ignore security issues at your peril.

As a result, the industry is working hard to get in front of the next incident. Its latest attempt, called Sheltered Harbor, hopes to bring together banks, credit unions, and other financial bodies for the goal of sharing information, so in the case of a cyberattack, affected industry members can continue to serve customers. As a part of this effort, the group’s members are expected to do secure backups of customer data.

While the Equifax breach involved stolen data, Sheltered Harbor works on the assumption that such data could be destroyed in a cyberattack.

“The focus is on really trying to protect the consumers’ access to their assets,” Steve Silberstein, Sheltered Harbor’s CEO, said in comments to Bloomberg. “We have to continue to make the system safer, and it continues to require some amount of sharing and some amount of cooperation to do that.”

The concept, brought to life last year by the Financial Services Information Sharing and Analysis Center (FS-ISAC), has the support of a wide number of associations, big banks, and financial clearinghouses, many of which make up its 34-member board, according to The Wall Street Journal. Already, the initiative represents around 400 million separate U.S. financial accounts.

The new initiative does not control any of the data and instead works with banks and other financial institutions to set standards. The program is quite sophisticated and offers seven tiers of participation, covering large banks and small—with annual fees ranging from $250 to $50,000, giving participants different levels of support based on their organizational needs.

The initiative represents one of many attempts the financial world has made to get in front of cybersecurity, including a series of wargame simulations put on by the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association.

(matejmo/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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