Thursday, December 20th, 2018
This summer, UK banks were given just three months to show and explain how they plan to avoid damaging IT breakdowns. Industry experts also want to know how UK banks plan to respond to the growing threat of cyber attacks.
Technology-related disruption is on the rise. The card chaos caused by a Mastercard glitch this past summer is the perfect example. The Bank of England and the Financial Conduct Authority told financial services firms to report back on their true exposure to risks and how they plan to respond to outages.
Lately, the vulnerability of the banking system to technology failures has been exposed by the inability of customers of the TSB bank to access their online accounts. Problems at payments firm Visa has also been highlighted. These outages not only affect consumers, but businesses as well.
FCA Chief Executive Andrew Bailey and BoE Deputy Governor Jon Cunliffe shared in a joint statement, “Operational disruption can impact financial stability, threaten the viability of individual firms and financial market infrastructures, or cause harm to consumers and other market participants in the financial system.”
For regulators, it is really important that banks and insurers demonstrate that they have a plan when crucial systems – like online banking or payment services – are disrupted by system failure or attacks. Regulators are proposing that two days is an acceptable limit for disruption to a business service. This issue was brought up to be addressed because customers of TSB bank were still unable to access online banking services over a month after its initial outage in April.
So, what is causing these disruptions? Regulators say the growing risk for shutdowns is mainly due to moves by financial firms to upgrade their computer systems. Each year, the pressure to keep up with new technology grows. The risk of tech-savvy competitors has also led to a growing consumer demand for instant services.
Thus far, a BoE official did confirm that banks and other financial firms will set targets for disruptions to key services and recovering from cyber-attacks. Both the FCA and the BoE have emphasized that responsibility for ensuring the resilience of financial firms sits with senior management.
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