The chairman of the UK's National Cyber Management Centre (NCMC) has warned that "a major bank will fail as a result of a cyber attack in 2017" leading to "a loss of confidence and a run on that bank".
Professor Richard Benham made his prediction to the BBC. In addition, Professor Benham has also cited statistics from the National Crime Agency that the UK suffered almost 2,500,000 cyber attacks last year and that this figure was most likely much higher because banks often under report such attacks and refund accounts directly.
In November, hackers made off with £2.5m from 9,000 Tesco Bank customers in an attack that the Financial Conduct Authority described at the time as 'unprecedented'. However the major high street banks in the UK have yet to experience a similar theft or to suffer a serious loss of confidence from their shareholders or consumers as a result of a cyber attack or data breach.
Meanwhile, GCHQ, the UK's central intelligence headquarters and home to the NCMC, is spending more than £420,000 on hiring cyber security experts. The new hires will be tasked primarily with defending many of the UK's small businesses, charities and universities that have not previously benefitted from government help.
The hiring spree also follows calls from UK MPs to make the defence of the UK's financial services industry a top priority in 2017. "It is essential that the intelligence community gives the regulators the technical and practical support they need to do their job," wrote Andrew Tyrie, Conservative MP and chair of the Treasury Select Committee, in December.
"This means making sure that financial cybercrime has a high priority, and is not subordinate to other work. Failure to do so would inhibit the ability of financial institutions to maintain an adequate level of protection for millions of consumers."