EXCLUSIVE BNP Paribas bans its Russia-based staff from accessing IT systems as fears of cyberattacks grow

EXCLUSIVE BNP Paribas bans its Russia-based staff from accessing IT systems as fears of cyberattacks grow

  • Several hundred employees have lost access to the internal network -source
  • Bank note alerts global workforce to threat of cyberattack
  • Unclear when access could be restored -source

LONDON/FRANKFURT, March 9 (Reuters) – France’s biggest bank BNP Paribas has cut its Russia-based workforce from its internal IT systems as it seeks to bolster its defenses against any potential cyberattack, a source with direct knowledge has said. of the case. Reuters.

The French lender, believed to be the first major bank to jettison staff to Moscow from its IT networks, has also placed employees in other locations on high alert for cyber threats emanating from Russia, following its invasion of Ukraine, an internal memo seen by Reuters showed.

The move, aimed at protecting the bank from cybercriminals who could use the local network as an access point, also further distances its shrinking Russian operations from the rest of the group.

Join now for FREE unlimited access to

Banks are grappling with an unprecedented wave of Western sanctions designed to quell President Vladmir Putin’s aggression by unleashing domestic economic chaos, while any counter-sanctions from Moscow could abruptly end lenders’ relationship with one of the largest energy producers in the world.

BNPP sounded the alarm in late February after regulators, including the European Central Bank, warned of the threat of retaliatory hacks as Russia seeks to promote economic instability in countries on Ukraine’s side. . Read more

The Kremlin has repeatedly denied that the Russian state had anything to do with hacks against other countries.

BNPP employs fewer than 500 people in Russia, a fraction of its more than 190,000 global workforce, and is gradually reducing its presence there, dropping retail banking in 2012 and consumer finance in 2020.

Moscow-based staff lost access to the bank’s network last week and it is unclear when this will be restored, the source told Reuters.

A BNPP spokesperson said it was one of the “least active” international banks in Russia, but strictly abided by all international sanctions decided by the European Union and other governments.

“In the current geopolitical environment, cyberattacks are likely to increase,” the bank said in a series of messages sent to top employees and seen by Reuters.

“Our cybersecurity teams…are on heightened alert…and are monitoring our networks extensively,” he said, adding that he had asked his business partners to do the same, as he attributed to the threat of hacking the “highest priority”.


The warning highlights the vulnerability of major Western banks and investment firms beyond the direct financial impact of war on business operations and asset values.

Cyberattacks can prevent customers from accessing accounts and other services and can hamper a bank’s ability to trade.

BNPP exposed 3 billion euros ($3.29 billion) exposure to Russia and Ukraine on Wednesday, while Italy’s Unicredit (CRDI.MI) said a full write-off of its business Russians would cost around 7.4 billion euros. Read more

Citigroup (CN), Britain’s Lloyds Banking Group and Ireland’s AIB Group have also flagged the risk of cyberattacks since Russia launched its attack on Ukraine, which Moscow calls a ‘special military operation’ to disarm and dislodge the leaders she describes as “neo-Nazis”. Read more

Meanwhile, the Bank of England is bolstering its cybersecurity division, with an emerging threats specialist and several senior cyber defense analyst vacancies among a series of new positions posted on its website in recent days.

The CEO of Swiss stock exchange operator SIX said on Wednesday there had been an increase in hacker attacks around the start of the Russian military operation last month. Read more

Kyiv’s cyber surveillance agency said Ukrainian websites had been continuously attacked by Russian hackers since the invasion, while Meta Platforms (FB.O) said it took down a network of fake accounts, groups and pages on Facebook and Instagram that worked. from Russia and Ukraine targeting people in Ukraine.

($1 = 0.9107 euros)

Join now for FREE unlimited access to

Editing by Kirsten Donovan

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.