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Wall Street urged to improve its cybersecurity defences

[WASHINGTON] President Barack Obama's administration is urging Wall Street banks to bolster their defences against cyber-attacks, calling the US finance industry a "treasure trove" for high-tech criminals.

"Virtually every process you engage in needs to be reviewed and updated, enterprise-wide, from a cyber-resiliency perspective," Deputy Treasury Secretary Sarah Bloom Raskin said in remarks prepared for a banking conference on Tuesday. Companies should require multi-step identity checks for anyone accessing their networks or data, she said.

Raskin's speech at the annual meeting of the Clearing House, a financial-industry trade group, comes a week after US prosecutors detailed a vast, multi-year criminal enterprise focusing on hacks of at least nine big financial and publishing companies. Suspects were tied to previously reported hacks of JPMorgan Chase & Co, E*Trade Financial Corp, Scottrade Financial Services Inc and News Corp's Dow Jones & Co.

Only people "absolutely necessary to run your business, operations, and systems" should have high-level access, Raskin said. "Banks - as the entry points and connecting nodes for the financial system as well as the holders of a treasure trove of high value customer data - are natural targets for bad actors."

Payment-system firms are also attractive targets because they are "therails on which currency, debit and credit card, and other transfers of monetary value travel," she said.