Treasury Lawyer Nominee May Help Banking Cybersecurity

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By Daniel R. Stoller

President Donald Trump’s pick for Treasury Department general counsel likely will draw on his cybersecurity and financial services experience to help U.S. banks fight digital threats, privacy and finance attorneys told Bloomberg BNA.

If Sullivan & Cromwell LLP partner Brent McIntosh is confirmed as expected, he would bring to the post a wealth of cybersecurity and financial services knowledge that will be helpful for banks and other financial institutions which face persistent cyberthreats, the attorneys said. McIntosh is co-chairman of Sullivan’s cybersecurity practice and has counseled clients on cybersecurity, data protection and financial data privacy governance policies, according to the firm’s website.

Mauricio F. Paez, cybersecurity partner at Jones Day in New York, told Bloomberg BNA that the move to name an attorney with a security background is a “good indication that the Trump administration is considering cybersecurity in a really good way.”

It is a “significant step forward” to have someone that is familiar with these risks and “has a financial services background,” Paez said. Providing cybersecurity expertise and “adding help at important levels across multiple industries and dealing with these issues resonates with” the private sector, he said.

The Treasury Department general counsel offers legal and policy advice to Secretary Steven Mnuchin and other senior department officials, according to Treasury’s website. The general counsel’s office also oversees the chief counsels of various Treasury offices, including the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, which guides financial institution reporting of cybercrime.

McIntosh has represented big banks and some of the largest financial institutions in the U.S., according to Bloomberg data, such as American International Group Inc., Barclays Plc, JPMorgan Chase & Co., Morgan Stanley, Prudential Financial Inc. and UBS Group AG.

McIntosh is expected to help banks and financial institutions shore up their internal security systems and help provide guidance to thwart attacks.

McIntosh declined to comment to Bloomberg BNA. A Treasury spokeswoman also declined to comment.

Banks Face Heightened Threats

U.S. financial services companies face heightened cybersecurity risks as cybercriminals seek to steal cash and valuable consumer data from big banks and institutions. The 2016 Bangladesh SWIFT bank heist, which saw at least $70 million go to hackers, demonstrates the advanced nature of these breaches.

Michael L. Yaeger, data security special counsel at Schulte Roth & Zabel LLP in New York, told Bloomberg BNA that the “financial sector has one thing that cybercriminals want, money, and something else they want, data.” Many financial institutions are consumer-facing and have understood “that they have a larger attack surface and have been dealing with cybersecurity issues for a long time compared to other” critical infrastructure institutions, he said.

Regulators “that help companies deal with these issues” and enrich the cybersecurity discussion are “very helpful,” Yaeger said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Daniel R. Stoller in Washington at dStoller@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Donald Aplin at daplin@bna.com

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