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Clobbering cyberfraudsters

Rachel Wilson was a cybersecurity expert before the broader world was even aware of such threats. The former head of the U.S. National Security Agency’s cyber exploitation operations now works to protect Morgan Stanley’s wealth management clients and systems. She talks to us about the latest dangers lurking in cyberspace and much more.

It’s been a busy few years for Rachel Wilson, head of wealth management data security and infrastructure risk at U.S investment bank Morgan Stanley. And it looks like her job is getting tougher as cybercriminals become more sophisticated and quickly react to her efforts to fight them. The dynamics of cybersecurity have gone through a well-documented transformation following the COVID-19 pandemic. The health crisis has only accelerated the use of personal computers and mobile devices for everything from banking to shopping, and that’s opened a myriad of opportunities for fraudsters.

If that’s not enough, banks now must brace for potential cyberattacks from Russia as that country invades Ukraine and responds to sanctions imposed by the U.S. and other European nations. Wilson’s experience fighting bad actors and terrorists in cyberspace at the National Security Agency (NSA) positions her well to tackle the challenges Morgan Stanley and the financial system face in an increasingly volatile world.

During Wilson’s tenure at the NSA from 2002 to 2017, hackers connected to the Iranian government coordinated cyberattacks on U.S. banks and stock exchanges. That was a frustrating experience for Wilson who at the time thought if she left government, she’d want to help protect critical infrastructures of the financial services sector. (See Morgan Stanley’s profile of Wilson, and “Seven Iranians Working for Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Affiliated Entities Charged for Conducting Coordinated Campaign of Cyber Attacks Against U.S. Financial Sector,” U.S. Department of Justice, March 24, 2016.)

Wilson, who’ll be a keynote speaker at the 33rd Annual ACFE Global Fraud Conference in Nashville, Tenn., June 19-24, is doing just that at Morgan Stanley and more. She talks to Fraud Magazine about how best to fight back against cyberfraudsters, what Russian hackers may do, sensible cyber hygiene and why this field needs more fraud examiners. 

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