May 9, 2018 / 9:01 PM / a year ago

Bank of Canada says strengthening defences against cyber attack

May 9 (Reuters) - Some cyber attacks will inevitably succeed, but the Bank of Canada has recovery mechanisms in place to limit the damage and get the financial system up and running, the central bank said on Wednesday.

In a speech to a Payments Canada summit in Toronto, Chief Operating Officer Filipe Dinis said the bank is devoting more time and attention to the threats to financial stability posed by cyber attacks, given the steady increase in the scope and seriousness of attacks worldwide.

Dinis said investments are being made to ensure the bank itself is resilient to cyber threats, that financial market infrastructures overseen by the bank are mitigating threats, and that the bank is collaborating with regulators, participants and oversight bodies at home and abroad.

Canada’s six largest banks are collaborating to test and enhance the resilience of the wholesale payments ecosystem, Dinis said. Dinis does not set monetary policy.

“The goal is to have a rapid, collaborative approach to recovery should a key participant be affected by a serious cyber security event, such as the corruption of critical data that results in a prolonged operational outage,” Dinis said in prepared notes for the speech.

Dinis said the bank helped create the Joint Operational Resilience Management Program with the Finance Department, financial market infrastructure owned by Payments Canada, and large Canadian banks, and last year ran an exercise to test escalation and communication protocols during a systemic crisis.

The exercise found shortcomings in the financial sector’s ability to coordinate actions in the event of a major disruption.

“At such a stressful time, the last thing we want is confusion and ambiguity. We are now developing improved protocols to address this shortcoming,” Dinis said.

“It is no longer enough for each institution to maintain its own alarm system. While doing so provides a certain level of protection and comfort, we need to invest in system-wide defences,” he added. (Reporting by Andrea Hopkins and Leah Schnurr in Ottawa; Editing by Sandra Maler)

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