Banks must collaborate to fight cybercrime – StanChart CEO

Banks must forge a common front rather than see themselves as competitors when it comes to the issue of combatting cybercrime, Mrs. Mansa Nettey-Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Standard Chartered Bank, has said.

Speaking at the bank’s first-ever forum on digital banking and cybersecurity in Accra, Mrs. Nettey said cybersecurity is arguably one of the biggest threats to the financial services sector.

“The scale of disruption in the banking industry as we know it today is unprecedented, with increased demand for convenient banking by ever-more sophisticated consumers. This has led to rapid technological advancement in the banking sector with increasingly more transactional activities moving online. There are also the advanced technologies such as blockchain, machine-learning and artificial intelligence.

“These technological advancements have ushered in new challenges and threats. One main challenge is cybercrime, and all organisations which have adopted digitisation are increasingly having to deal with this threat that is becoming more frequent and sophisticated. The scary part is the its rate of advancement seems to have outpaced developments in cybersecurity,” Mrs. Nettey said.

According to the Standard Chartered CEO, cybersecurity is one area where banks cannot afford to be competing with each other.

“As an industry, we can protect ourselves from the threat of cybercrime by engaging with each other, sharing information and best practices, and collaborating more.  For us at Standard Chartered, cybercrime is not a nice thing to have – we see combatting it as a fiduciary duty,” she added.

Speaking at the opening of the summit, Dr. Ernest Addison-Governor of the Bank of Ghana, said as the policymaker and regulator the Bank will continue to exercise firm oversight of the payment system, monitor risks associated with digital innovation, and develop appropriate regulatory responses without stifling innovation.

Dr. Addison stated that the central bank has so far prepared banking sector Cyber and Information Security guidelines to protect consumers and create a safer environment for online and e-payments products.

According to him, the guidelines among others seek to create a secure environment for transactions within cyberspace, and guarantee trust and confidence in ICT systems; provide an assurance framework for the design of security policies in compliance to global security standards and best practices by way of cyber and information security assessments; and protect banks, customers and clients against the potentially devastating consequences of cyber-attacks.

“In addition to these cybersecurity regulations, the Bank of Ghana will soon require financial institutions to publish bank-specific cybersecurity policies in line with provisions in the Payment Systems and Services bill that is expected to be passed by Parliament soon,” he revealed.

The central bank Governor also revealed that financial institutions will soon be required to implement an integrated approach by adopting enterprise-wide frameworks of cyber risk management in line with business objectives.

He added it is anticipated that an integrated approach to cybersecurity management will support financial institutions to achieve both business and security-focused objectives, as well as regulatory compliance, in an efficient and effective way.

“Regulatory compliance by itself is not cybersecurity. The onus lies on banks to examine the state of their security systems, identify gaps and design appropriate mechanisms to counter possible cyber-threats,” Dr. Addison said.