Cyber risks pose serious threats to financial institutions, say experts

DUBAI, The Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA) hosted an outreach event for its regulated community and other stakeholders to discuss known and emerging cyber risks and trends, and the steps that should be taken to prevent, detect and respond to them.

It was acknowledged that globally, cyber-attacks are increasing in scale and sophistication from highly organised groups of hackers with malicious intent. The DFSA expects its regulated firms not only to look at their own arrangements but also to assess the cyber security arrangements of third-party providers to which they outsource key functions.

The event was opened by Mr Ian Johnston, Chief Executive of the DFSA, who provided an overview of the current challenges being addressed by international standard-setting bodies, regulators and financial institutions. Mr. Johnston pointed out the global growth of FinTech and the concentrated efforts on addressing cyber risks as apriority on their agendas.

Mr Johnston highlighted that: “Cyber threats are growing in sophistication. Most businesses across all industries, regardless of their location or size, now rely on digital technology. While the use of technology, and FinTech innovation in the finance sector, drives efficiency and development, it can also increase vulnerability to cyber-attacks in the UAE and around the world”.

A number of cyber risk specialists spoke at the event including; Mohammed Nader Fikri, Monitoring Incident Handling and Response Analyst at the Telecommunication Regulatory Authority Computer Emergency Response Team (aeCERT), Stuart Paterson, Partner at Herbert Smith Freehills, Darren Mullins, Director Forensic Technology at Deloitte, Hamid Qureshi, Territory Sales Manager at Thales E-Security, and Mr Oliver Fairbank, Senior Analyst, Cyber Threat Intelligence from Control Risks.

The discussions highlighted that cyber risks pose a serious and persistent threat to all financial institutions and to the resilience of the financial system.

Bryan Stirewalt, Managing Director, Supervision at the DFSA, said that: “Cyber security is now a risk that must be considered at Board level with day-to-day responsibility allocated to a member of senior management. Boards of directors and senior management need to focus on prevention and detection measures, while planning and rehearsing their responses”.

In his closing remarks Stirewalt, referring to the importance of collaboration between the DFSA, DIFC, and UAE Cyber Agencies such as aeCERT, and Authorised Firms, said: “Open, honest and frequent communication is critical to getting this right, and today we are embarking on the first of many steps.”

The outreach session primarily targeted DIFC companies and was attended by senior management as well as compliance, risk and IT professionals.

Source: Emirates News Agency