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MAS warns against systems failures

By Jack Loo | Feb. 28, 2011
The Singapore regulatory body does not want banks in the republic to do what the National Australia Bank did when it racked up to 168 hours in downtime.

SINGAPORE, FEBRUARY 24, 2011—Reliability, resilience and recoverability are the three key words that banks in Singapore must bear in mind for their operations, said a senior executive from the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) at the Asian Financial Services Congress today.

“Technology risks are unlike any other risks in the finance industry. When one day the core banking system fails, customers cannot access their accounts and the bank’s operations come to a standstill,” said Tony Chew, Director, Technology Risk Supervision, MAS. The MAS is the government regulatory body for the finance industry in Singapore.

Chew noted that the system crashes or outages were ranked as the world’s top IT risk in 2011. Last year, one of the biggest failures to occur worldwide was the National Australia Bank’s systems going down for a record 168 hours.

“If this were to happen in Singapore, I would have to find a new job,” said Chew. “We would not allow banks in Singapore to fail for more than seven hours.” He added that the MAS’s requirement for banks to return to operations is the timeframe of four hours.

One vital technology feature Chew said banks should consider—automated full recovery capability for systems such as Storage Area Networks (SANs) and backup SANs. He also underlined the hazards of cybercrime and fraud to the finance industry in Singapore.

“The threat landscape is that attacks have become worse, more frequent and effective,” Chew said. However, he warned industry players from believing too much in “sensational numbers” from vendors and the media. He highlighted that only the UK, Australia, France and Singapore have trade associations and government agencies collecting cybercrime data from banks in the countries.

Chew also said that the MAS is looking to make counterfeit fraud of banking cards “almost impossible in Singapore”. One measure is for banks to introduce EMV-standard chip bank cards, which use cryptographic technology for even greater security, particularly in comparison with older cards that use magnetic strips.

In its seventh edition, the Asian Financial Services Congress is organised by IDC Financial Insights annually. The conference looks at business and technology issues faced by the finance industry in Asia.


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