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Banks equipped vs cyberattacks despite increase in fraud, phishing


PHILIPPINE BANKS are better equipped to manage cyberattacks compared to lenders in other Southeast Asian countries, even with phishing and fraud incidents on the rise.

“Philippine banks have a better ability to manage these cyberattacks compared to other ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) countries,” Mastercard Philippines Country Manager Simon A. Calasanz said in an interview with BusinessWorld last week.

Mr. Calasanz said this was based on a Mastercard external assessment.

He said this is thanks to proactive regulators, with the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas issuing circulars to solve issues quickly, partnering with industry groups, and implementing new technologies against cyber threats as soon as they are available.

Private banks are also playing their part in improving cybersecurity in the financial sector through keeping their backend systems constantly updated and educating both customers and their personnel, Mr. Calasanz added.

“I can’t comment specifically on their budget, but I can see that, top of mind, it’s definitely a concern of all the banks. When I have discussions with either their senior leaders or the presidents of the banks, they do mention that cybersecurity is paramount in terms of ensuring that their defenses are ready to handle these kinds of attacks,” he said.

However, he noted that the country sees a large amount of cyberattacks, especially fraud.

Citing a TransUnion report, he said that fraud, both physical and online, has increased by about 80% since 2019.

To address this, Mr. Calasanz said that customer literacy is key towards improving cybersecurity.

“Customer education is also very important because when we look at fraud, we’re all digitally connected, in which case we’re only as strong as our weakest link,” he said.

He noted that both regulators and private banks regularly alert the public about emerging cyberattack trends.

“That’s something that you already see some of the banks doing. They send regular reminders either through e-mail or SMS. That they’re not just doing it at an account opening. They’re already doing regular reminders,” he said.

Mr. Calasanz also urged banks to keep their backend systems updated, as cybercriminals are also keeping up with the latest technologies and are evolving.

“By its very nature, where we see the transactions go, that is likely where fraudsters will also try to go, and as technology evolves, they will also evolve. The good thing is technology also helps us,” he said. — A.M.C. Sy

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