Central Bank: Boost cyber security

IN WHAT has been dubbed as one of today’s biggest threats in the banking sector, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) calls on banks to heighten their cybersecurity measures amid global ransomware attacks.

In a memorandum circular 2017-018, incoming BSP governor Nestor Espenilla Jr. reminded banks to adopt multifactor authentication (MFA) in response to “growing concerns on cyber attacks involving fraudulent e-mails and websites aimed at customers and employees of financial institutions.”

Last May 12, a massive cyberattack took place in 150 countries and victimized 200,000 computers. The attack, which made use of a malware referred to as “WannaCry,” had blocked computers and encrypted the files on it.

The persons behind the attack, who have not been identified yet, asked victims for ransom money to free infected computers.

While the Philippines was spared from this attack, Espenilla advised BSP-supervised financial institutions (BSFI) to promptly report to the central bank incidents involving cyber-extortion using ransomware and other types of cybercrimes, should this happen.

“If infected by ransomware, BSFIs should refrain from paying or communicating with the malicious actor as this does not guarantee that ransomed or encrypted files will be released,” the circular reads.

Paying ransom to cybercriminals is also discouraged since this will only encourage the culprit to engage in more cybercrime activities.

Instead, Espenilla said banks should proactively monitor the cyber-threat environment through “robust, timely, and actionable threat intelligence” by providing multiple layers of defenses through implementing “appropriate controls at the host, network, and endpoint levels to prevent and detect malicious codes.”

In addition, banks should apply the “least privilege” principle in granting access to all systems and services as well as prohibit the download and use of unauthorized files and software.

Other preventive measures include the installation and timely update of anti-malware software provided by reputable vendors, periodic vulnerability scanning, and effective patch management procedures for all critical systems and applications, said BSP. Having a cloud and recovery system as a back-up to banks’ files is also highly encouraged.
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