Revolut shores up cyber defences with new hacking unit
Written by James Orme Mon 18 Feb 2019
The fintech start-up is looking to hire a team that will hack into its IT system and search the dark web for potential threats
Revolut is recruiting a team of hackers to strengthen its cyber defences as the bank continues its rapid growth.
The start-up fintech firm is looking to recruit five computer experts that will attempt to hack into its IT system to help fend off real cyber attacks and prevent potential data breaches and fraud.
Paul Heffernan, Revolut’s chief information security officer, told the Press Association that the team will monitor security operations for the company and surf the dark web, parts of the internet not easily accessible through traditional search engines, looking for potential threats.
“One of the responsibilities of this team is to come in and just hack all of our own systems for us,” he said.
“They will actually be continually testing our security and hacking into our own systems for us and using that knowledge to keep us secure.
“The majority of those people will be in the security operations function and then we are going have some people that work in the threat analysis area, so they will be looking on the dark web and looking at different parts of the internet to identify issues.”
Revolut’s cyber function currently consists of Mr Heffernan, who was brought in last September to build a dedicated team.
The roles are expected to be filled in the next two to three months and the unit is expected to be a mix of experienced hires and graduates.
Revolut currently employs around 700 people.
Mr Heffernan said he is aiming to take advantage of the fact that Revolut does not have to deal with legacy IT infrastructure that has hobbled high street banks.
He said the traditional banks are struggling to upgrade their IT platforms and that they may turn to buying or partnering with start-ups to boost their technology capabilities.
“Some of the acquisitions that traditional banks have made in fintech suggests that they’re struggling to turn this problem around inside their organisation and it seems that the easiest approach would simply to buy a fintech and move your customers into this solution to fix the issue.
“I think this is a very, very big problem for them to solve because you’re talking about infrastructure that’s been scaled to millions of customers and you just can’t afford down time in that transition.
“We know through a lot of the outages that have happened with card brands and banks that they can’t afford the reputational impact and operation impact.”
Barclays, Royal Bank of Scotland, and notably TSB, in recent years have been hit with IT failures that locked thousands of their customers out of their accounts.
Mr Heffernan added: “I don’t know if we are going to see traditional banks kind of go through the transformation that we would like them to.
“I think what’s probably going to happen is they will buy or try and partner up with those organisations that already have that infrastructure and try and do something this way”.
Another fintech unicorn
Revolut is one of many digital-only banks that have sprung up in recent years to challenge the high street stalwarts.
It launched four years ago by former investment bankers Nikolay Storonsky and Vlad Yatsenko and has more than three million customers.
The company intends to launch in a number of markets this year including the US, Canada and Japan.
Last April it acquired the coveted unicorn status for a private company with a valuation of 1.7 billion US dollars (£1.3 billion), but was recently taken over by German rival N26, which is worth 2.7 billion dollars.
Revolut made headlines recently after its “single-shaming” advertising campaign was referred to the Financial Conduct Authority after the advertising regulator received a series of complaints.
The company’s adverts on the London underground sparked the ire of several people on Twitter and raised the issue of ethics surrounding firms’ use of customers’ data and privacy.
Meanwhile, Revolut has also been forced to deny that it has links to the Kremlin following accusations by a Lithuanian politician that the company’s boss is interfering in the country’s politics.
Last year, Revolut secured a European banking licence from the Bank of Lithuania.
Written by James Orme Mon 18 Feb 2019
Tags:banking cyber attack cybersecurity finance FinTech
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