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BSP moves to boost banks’ cyber defense

THE BANGKO SENTRAL ng Pilipinas (BSP) is working to strengthen banks’ cyber resilience through industry-wide initiatives to protect consumers amid increasing digital payments.

The central bank said in a statement on Thursday that it has completed the Advanced SupTech Engine for Risk-Based Compliance (ASTERisC*), which will be deployed among selected BSP-supervised financial institutions (BSFIs).

“ASTERisC* is a unified regulatory and supervisory technology (RegTech and SupTech) solution that streamlines and automates regulatory supervision, reporting, and compliance assessment of BSFIs’ cybersecurity risk management,” the BSP said.

As the lead Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT) of BSFIs, the BSP will also be issuing the Financial Services Cyber Resilience Plan, headed by the central bank’s Financial Supervision Sector–Technology Risk and Innovation Department.

The plan is seen to improve the regulatory and supervisory environment for cybersecurity. It will also serve as the primary framework for policies and strategies to strengthen cyber defense in the financial services industry.

“The BSP continuously engages the BSFIs, relevant government agencies, and industry associations for a cohesive and industry-wide approach to addressing emerging threats and risks, as well as enhancing cyber incident response, threat intelligence, and overall situational awareness in the country,” the central bank said.

Former BSP Governor Benjamin E. Diokno in December said the central bank is looking to issue stronger regulations on banks’ cyber defense following hacking incidents involving BDO Unibank, Inc. and UnionBank of the Philippines, Inc.

The National Bureau of Investigation in January arrested several people allegedly behind the hacking incident that affected more than 700 BDO clients.

In March, the central bank approved BSP Circular No. 1140, amending risk management regulations to strengthen cybersecurity and minimize losses from online fraud and illicit activities.

“The BSP constantly reminds the public to practice cyber hygiene under its cyber awareness and digital literacy program themed, #E-Safety is Everyone’s Responsibility,” the central bank said. 

The central bank added that it is committed to maintaining the soundness and stability of the Philippine financial system by boosting their cyber resilience as more consumers shift to online transactions.

Latest data from the BSP showed the share of digital payments in the total volume of retail transactions in the country rose to 30.3% in 2021 from 20.1% a year earlier amid growing adoption of online transactions amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Meanwhile, the value of payments done online represented 44.1% of total retail transactions last year, higher than the 26.8% share in 2020.

The BSP wants digital payments to make up 50% of all transactions both in volume and value by 2023. — K.B. Ta-asan

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