CBS hosts symposium to mark 41st anniversary | 23 November 2019
Cybersecurity risks explored
As the Central Bank of Seychelles pushes forward with its modernisation strategy towards digitisation, the financial institution is also bearing in mind the risks associated with digital technologies in the financial sector.
Digital technologies have transformed many aspects of daily life and the finance industry is one which has undergone drastic technology-led changes in recent years. Artificial Intelligence (AI), blockchain and robotics are the latest disruptive digital technologies that are gaining traction in the industry, and which are expected to revolutionise the sector globally. The benefits and risks associated with such technologies were yesterday highlighted and discussed at length during the ‘Navigating Cyber-security risks in the digital revolution’ symposium held at the Savoy Resort & Spa to mark the 41st anniversary of the Central Bank of Seychelles (CBS), on December 1.
During her opening address, Governor of CBS Caroline Abel emphasised the need for Seychelles to follow suit and embrace digital technologies through the introduction of more innovation to further develop the national payment system and other financial infrastructures.
“As we endeavour to modernise the way we deliver our mandate and ensure that the public is provided with the capacity to understand newer products and services that are at their disposal, it is imperative that we keep pace not only with new technologies and their accompanying opportunities and benefits, but also with how to better understand, manage and mitigate the inherent risks,” said governor Abel.
“There is no doubt that technology is here to stay, and we are yet to see the full extent of the digital era and the array of potential benefits and opportunities it brings. Nevertheless, while all of these developments bring about many prospects to increase the availability and efficiency of services and products for the financial institutions themselves and their customers, which include businesses, we need to remain mindful of the risks involved. Data breaches, identity theft, email scams, ransomware attacks, are but a few of those risks that can have a significant impact on individuals and businesses alike, with the potential to create huge financial, operational and reputational risks for the targeted organisations,” she said.
Governor Abel went on to note the numerous initiatives being undertaken at national level and by CBS to put in place necessary frameworks to mitigate the cybersecurity risks of digital technologies, noting that it is only through combined effort of the stakeholders and public engagement can policies and legislation be devised “to allow the country to exploit the benefits that the digital revolution brings, while minimising the risks.”
International keynote speaker, Dr Majid Malaika, a senior cybersecurity and digital risk expert at the International Monetary Fund (IMF) provided an international perspective on the realities of cybersecurity in the digital era. He recounted the history of the internet and the world wide web, noting rapid technological advancements over the years and exponential growth in digital devices.
Dr Malaika talked about data leaks noting, that 244,000 thousand records are leaked on the internet per hour, from the 22 billion connected devices.
“In 2015, we’ve seen US $3 billion in losses globally, that’s the equivalent of about 4 percent of the world’s gross domestic product (GDP). Moving to 2021, the predicted number is about US $6 trillion, that’s double the amount in a few years,” he said talking about cybersecurity damages.
Dr Malaika stated cybersecurity risks across sectors including malware, misconfiguration, insider threat, cloud sharing vulnerabilities, hardware vulnerabilities as well as design and implementation flaws, citing notorious cases including the DOW hacks. He proposed that a risk-based approach be adopted as well as a threat-modelling mindset. He noted that there are numerous types of attackers and that it is important to understand the attacker and motives in the instance of security breaches as well as planning for cybersecurity well ahead of time.
A second presentation by risk manager at Barclays Banks Seychelles (Absa) Renny Bijoux focused on the local mindset towards cyber-security.
He spoke briefly of the environment and how most business organisations are somehow reliant on the internet which features security as an add-on as opposed to being integrated into the network. Mr Bijoux advised that organisations should ensure that there is continuous monitoring of their information technologies (IT).
As for the public, Mr Bijoux advised against downloading pirated programs or software, using stronger passwords and not connecting their devices to any network, unless it is one that can be trusted.
Governor Abel, Dr Malaika and Mr Bijoux then sat on a panel moderated by Raymond Clarisse in which they further explored the topic, touching on the CBS’s role as the leader in the cyber-security agenda.
All present, including board members, management, staff, and other stakeholders were then invited to a cocktail reception.