Singapore’s financial sector completes exercise to prepare against cyber threats

Picture by Mohamad Hassan

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) and the Association of Banks in Singapore (ABS) jointly conducted a cyber-themed business continuity exercise in November 2019 to strengthen the financial sector’s resilience to cyber-attacks and operational disruptions.

Codenamed Exercise Raffles, the sixth edition of the exercise was conducted over two days and involved over 140 organisations. It was supported by the Cyber Security Agency of Singapore (CSA) and financial industry partners that included SWIFT, FIS Global, and Merimen Technologies (Singapore) Pte Ltd.

Exercise Raffles saw financial institutions respond to scenarios of cyber-attacks and operational disruptions by activating their business continuity and crisis management plans, and practicing their public communications and coordination. The scenarios included banking and payment service disruptions, trading disorders, data theft and the spreading of rumors and falsehoods on social media.

The Financial Services Information Sharing and Analysis Center (FS-ISAC) and the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) participated in the exercise for the first time, in recognition of the important part played by information sharing among financial institutions and between regulators.

Mr Tan Yeow Seng, Chief Cyber Security Officer, MAS, said that the continually evolving cyber threat landscape and increasing inter-connectedness in the financial sector calls for close collaboration within the financial ecosystem to effectively counter the threats.

Exercise Raffles brings together the public and private sectors to test the response capabilities and develop comprehensive plans to improve cyber preparedness. Among the many learning points from the exercise, was the need for better coordination to manage the implications of operational disruptions in one financial institution on others within and beyond the financial sector,” he continued.

“Overall, the experiences gained would serve to reinforce and strengthen the financial sector’s cyber resilience,” he concluded.

Mrs Ong-Ang Ai Boon, Director of ABS, said, “Business and Operational resilience is a critical component of a financial institution. The industry regularly tests our crisis management procedures against scenarios such as cyber-attack, physical attack, pandemic and environmental hazards. This is to ensure that we can respond to crisis effectively as an institution and as an industry.”