Recent headlines confirm that the SWIFT (Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Communication) has suffered multiple cyber attacks. SWIFT is a privately run Belgium-based provider of financial messaging, considered essential to move money around the world. The system is so important that to be denied access to it is essentially to be cut off financially from the rest of the world. That is what happened to Iran in 2012 in conjunction with sanctions and the pain was severe. Many believe that regaining access to SWIFT was the Iranians top priority in negotiations.
It is important to understand that SWIFT is not, at least not directly, controlled by the United States. Rather, it is governed by a multi-nation board. Still, it is viewed to be part of the United States-led global financial community. American sanctions carry tremendous weight. Continue reading