Congressmen Cleaver and Meeks Call For Financial Regulators to Harden Cyber Infrastructure Against Possible Attacks From Iran

Jan 8, 2020
Press Release

(Washington, D.C.) – Last night, United States Representatives Emanuel Cleaver, II (D-MO) and Gregory Meeks (D-NY) sent a letter to nine separate federal financial regulators calling for them to strengthen their cyber infrastructure against possible attacks in the wake of recent threats against the United States from Iran and its allies. They call for increased information sharing with law enforcement and regulated entities to protect consumers and our national financial systems.

“The financial services sector globally has been a primary target for attacks by cybercriminals and state actors because of the significant value of the information available,” the lawmakers wrote. “In response to these heightened and credible threats as articulated by U.S. national security elements, we urge financial regulators to strengthen their existing financial infrastructure against possible cyber-attacks.”

“Iran has proven to be exceptionally capable when it comes to cyber warfare,” said Congressman Cleaver. “As tensions with the Iranian regime continue to unnecessarily escalate, it’s critical that financial regulators and individual institutions be proactive in preparation for potential cyber-attacks against our financial system. While I’m hopeful we can avoid any further conflict, it’s important we be prepared to protect consumers and defend our financial system from any major disruptions.”

"Given President Trump’s reckless escalation with Iran, we need to make sure that our financial sector is insulated from Iran's inevitable retaliation,” Congressman Meeks said. “The Iranian regime's cyber-threat capabilities against our financial infrastructure has already been demonstrated. It is critical that our financial regulators develop and communicate a clear action-plan to thwart potential cyber-attacks from Iran and its allies, which could cripple our financial sector, and cause real economic harm to American families. Knowing Iran's potential targets is only an advantage if we take the necessary steps to defend existing vulnerabilities."

Reports indicate that financial services firms are hit by security incidents 300 times more frequently than businesses in other industries. Following the Obama Administration’s sanctions against Iran in 2012, Iran initiated a series of “denial of services” attacks against Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, and Wells Fargo, among other financial institutions. In 2014, Iran also destroyed company data at Sands Casino. As Chairmen of the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Consumer Protection and Financial Institutions (Meeks) and National Security (Cleaver), the lawmakers are seeking to fortify the financial infrastructure of the U.S. before Iran can wreak financial turmoil. In order to do that, the lawmakers have asked the financial regulators to communicate a strategy to further mitigate existing cyber vulnerabilities within our financial infrastructure by March 2020.

The letter was delivered to the Federal Reserve, Treasury Department, Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC).

You can find the letter here.


Emanuel Cleaver, II is the U.S. Representative for Missouri's Fifth Congressional District, which includes Kansas City, Independence, Lee's Summit, Raytown, Grandview, Sugar Creek, Blue Springs, Grain Valley, Oak Grove, North Kansas City, Gladstone, Claycomo, and all of Ray, Lafayette, and Saline Counties. He is a member of the exclusive House Financial Services Committee; Chairman of the House Subcommittee on National Security, International Development, and Monetary Policy; member of the Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress; member of the Committee on Homeland Security; and a Senior Whip of the Democratic Caucus. For more information, please contact Matthew Helfant at 202-225-4535 or A high-resolution photo of Congressman Cleaver is available here.