Cyber-attacks have emerged as a global threat to financial stability – Opoku-Afari

First Deputy Governor of the Bank of Ghana Dr Maxwell Opoku-Afari has said cyber-attacks, attacks on information and communication technology systems, have emerged as a global threat to financial stability and the way of life.

He said successful cyber-attacks on computer systems and networks supporting critical national assets and infrastructure could cause significant havoc to the way of life, cause financial loss, undermine public confidence, and cause major disruption to local economy.

“I am therefore encouraged that all the major stakeholders are gathered here today to launch a national effort aimed at creating cyber security awareness to combat the rising threat posed by cyber-attacks and cyber-crimes. It is my hope that the steps we are taking today will be sustained to promote confidence in the financial system and also ensure financial inclusion,” he said during the official launch of the National Cyber security awareness month on Friday October 1.

He further stated that “let me also add that the COVID-19 pandemic, and issues emanating from it, has accelerated the adoption of digitalization in Ghana and this is progressing at top speed. Embracing the new norm of working remotely, transferring resources across financial platforms, purchasing goods and services online, are gradually changing the face of our economy and we need to position ourselves in readiness for the threats that come along with this changing lifestyles and doing business. The pandemic has also impacted cybersecurity in various ways, including:

“Bringing to the fore a rapidly evolving cybersecurity threat landscape that has rendered traditional or conventional cybersecurity safeguards inadequate; and Increased cybersecurity exposure for Critical Information Infrastructure.

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“These new and emerging threats have left nations and organizations exposed and vulnerable to cyber-attacks. Current trends in cybersecurity point to significant increases in attacks against Critical Information Infrastructure and related organizations that are drivers of national economies. For many organizations today, the concern is no longer ‘if or when the organization is hacked”, but rather “the organization is likely hacked, we just don’t know how and when it happened’.

Addressing cyber security risks, Dr Opoku-Afari said, “has become more important than ever and policy makers need to internalize this fact in their discourse. In what follows, I will discuss regulatory regimes that are being followed through to enhance cybersecurity awareness in the banking sector. We are all aware that the banking sector is one critical institution whose role is to support growth.

“Over the years, banks have progressively moved to digitize their operations and in the process have become vulnerable to cyberattacks. Our inability to put in place policies to protect the infrastructure of banks from attacks could result in the destruction of the very foundation of growth and this has national security implications. Regulating and close monitoring of cyber activities in”
the banking sector thus become an important critical role for the central bank.

“While we pursue this agenda, we need to recognize that regulatory frameworks alone may not be enough to protect the nation’s critical information infrastructure. Regulatory frameworks must be followed by actionable steps to lock-in potential intentions. For this reason, I will attempt to go through some issues and highlight the importance of cyber security awareness including on cyber hygiene as a means of confronting head-on cyber security risks.

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“Globally, cyber-attacks on digitized payment products are increasingly becoming sophisticated, especially on financial institutions with insecure IT systems.

“We have witnessed global cyber-attacks which resulted in disruptions to some critical financial services and destroyed financial assets and savings. It is important therefore to ensure that the security of electronic banking products and services are not compromised.”

By Laud Nartey||Ghana