Exclusive: Meet the Fed’s First Line of Defense Against Cyber Attacks

by The Daily Lede

Exclusive: Meet the Fed’s First Line of Defense Against Cyber Attacks

If the U.S. central banking system is ever hit with a crippling cyber attack, a group of roughly 100 government employees working in a three-story fortress-like building next door to a Buick dealership in East Rutherford, N.J., will be among the first to know about it. That’s where, almost entirely out of sight, a team from the Federal Reserve System’s crack cyber security unit is constantly on watch for malicious hackers, criminals, and spies trying to breach the computer networks of the Fed, its regional banks, and some of the most critical financial infrastructure in America.

The National Incident Response Team, or NIRT, as the group is called (pronounced “nert”) tries to prevent intruders from breaking into Fed computer networks and money transfer systems used by thousands of banks across the U.S every day. Among the team’s most important protectees is the Fedwire Funds Service, a real-time settlement system that banks use to transfer money between accounts. In 2013, Fedwire handled on average $2.8 trillion in transfers every day.