The American Bankers Association (ABA) has named Paul Benda as its senior vice president for operational risk and cybersecurity, a newly expanded role focused on helping banks of all sizes reduce physical, cyber, fraud and other risks to their daily operations and advocating for policies that enhance overall industry resiliency.
Benda first joined ABA in 2018 to oversee physical and cybersecurity risks. In this new position, he will expand ABA’s anti-fraud efforts and industry offerings in the risk space while also advising senior leadership on steps to reduce risks to ABA’s own operations.
Throughout the pandemic Benda has led ABA’s COVID-19 response, providing real-time information to banks to help them prioritize the health and safety of employees and customers while allowing the banking system to remain open without interruption during the health crisis. He has served as ABA’s lead COVID-19 coordinator with federal agencies, trade associations and state bankers associations to ensure America’s banks have the information and resources they need to manage risks associated with the pandemic.
In addition to his other responsibilities, Benda and his team of policy professionals will collaborate with ABA’s Office of Member Engagement to identify and create products and services that will help banks of all sizes defend against various and evolving risks that threaten their operations and security.
“Throughout this unprecedented health crisis, Paul has worked tirelessly to provide timely, factual and relevant information to banks across the country on how to navigate the many threats associated with the pandemic,” said Rob Nichols, ABA president and CEO. “His professional and military experience have been invaluable. This expanded role will allow Paul to do even more to help the banking industry efficiently manage risks moving forward.”
“I am grateful for this opportunity and look forward to continuing to work with my ABA colleagues to help banks of all sizes manage the many operational risks they face,” Benda said. “Whether it’s a cyber threat, new fraud tactics or another pandemic, our members know they can count on ABA to help guide them in a dangerous world.”
A veteran security expert, Benda previously served in multiple roles at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), including chief of staff at Science and Technology, senior counselor to the undersecretary and acting deputy undersecretary in the department’s Science and Technology Directorate, and director of the Homeland Security Advanced Research Projects Agency.
During his time at DHS’s Homeland Security Advanced Research Projects Agency, Benda helped establish the cybersecurity division, which was responsible for the development of technologies to protect and defend the .gov and .com domains. In addition, he oversaw and executed SAFETY Act applications and approvals to enhance security capabilities at prominent public venues, including sports stadiums, airports, ports, commercial facilities and urban transportation centers.
He has also served in positions at the Department of Defense (DOD) and Booz Allen Hamilton as well as acting as an advisor to the Government Technology & Services Coalition. While at DOD, Benda helped develop the first integrated security master plan for the Pentagon and led the development, testing and operational installation of the most advanced chemical and biological protection system ever constructed. That work has been particularly beneficial to ABA members during COVID-19.
Benda served in the U.S. Air Force, rising to the rank of captain. His assignments included the Air Force Research Laboratory in Rome, N.Y. He holds both a master’s and a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Purdue University.