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Mexico triggers new emergency protocol after suspected cyberattack

Mexico's financial regulators July 6 warned the financial sector to be on alert for cyberattacks following a suspected assault on cryptocurrency platform Bitso.

Bitso said it activated a security protocol after detecting the attack, which deactivates all funding and withdrawals on its website, and that all users' funds were intact, according to a July 6 statement. The company will carry out "an exhaustive assessment" of the event and operate in contingency mode until it has fully mapped what happened.

In a joint statement, Banco de México, the finance ministry and financial regulator CNBV requested that all financial institutions increase their alert levels and strengthen their security and surveillance schemes, in light of the suspected attack.

"The announced measure is of a preventive nature and infrastructures and participants of the financial system are operating normally," the regulators said.

The emergency measure follows a protocol set by the authorities and industry players May 24, following the April and May cyberattacks, which targeted the central bank's interbank payment system known as the SPEI.

Through the exposure, money was illegally siphoned from fake accounts and hackers are thought to have stolen between 300 million pesos and 400 million pesos. With SPEI, Banxico provides a private, encrypted network in which users can electronically transfer money between deposit accounts.

CNBV head Bernando González said those attacks served as an important reminder for the financial sector and companies were obliged to report to the authorities any severe events of this kind.

Meanwhile, Banxico formed an information security task force in the wake of the attacks, and set new guidelines for financial institutions using the SPEI system, including setting restrictions on the amounts, timing and delivery of transactions.

As of July 5, US$1 was equivalent to 19.24 Mexican pesos.