Elets Exclusive : COVID boosting digitisation but Cybersecurity remains a concern, opine banking experts

Elets Webinar

The outbreak of coronavirus pandemic has hampered the economy and regular operations around industries on one end, on the other end it has given a pragmatic rise to digital services. While digital is the new normal now, a scare on the rise of cyber threats is becoming evident. Underlining this paradigm shift caused due to the pandemic and expansion in function vistas pertaining to cybersecurity, Elets Technomedia in association with The Banking & Finance Post organised a Live Webinar on 22nd April 2020.

Elets Webinar

  • Moderator – Dr. Ravi Gupta, Founder, CEO & Editor in Chief, Elets Technomedia Pvt Ltd

The ongoing crisis posed by the pandemic is affecting the operations across sectors. While new challenges are coming our way, promising opportunities are also emerging. Giving a brief on the current situation and initiatives taken by Elets towards spreading awareness and promoting knowledge sharing through its Live Webinars, Dr Gupta welcomed the panelist and requested them to share their words of wisdom.

Excerpts of the Address:

  • Biju K, Chief Information Security Officer (CISO), Federal Bank

All of us around the BFSI sector had an idea on the crisis encircling China by the end of December but none of us anticipated about the severity of the situation in terms of India. At our end, we had a Business Continuity Plan (BCP) keeping availability of services and resources in mind.

While services were managed but right resource availability at the required time was one of the biggest challenges faced by us. Work From Home definitely worked for us but ensuring flexi hours, availability of services and flawless internet connectivity and maintain BCP is something that is in process and leveling-up fast. There are several services that are put in place on the Adhoc-basis. In addition, we are also working on the awareness part for our customers and employees as that is a necessity now and an aggressive attitude pertaining to it is required now. We are also trying to bring new and advanced solutions.

  • Shivkumar Pandey, CISO, BSE

Unlike banks BSE is a data centric company where everything is digitised. However, with the sudden rise in the demand of Work From Home model amid the outbreak of Covid-19 the need of secured VPN with better connectivity came to the spotlight and gradually with the falling speed due to inflated demand of VPN and increasing usage of non-secured personal devices made security assurance, a problem. It is also significant from our end to spread awareness pertaining to COVID, training employees on the correct use of devices in adherence to safety guidelines.

As a matter of fact, this situation has lead to a paradigm shift. This will lead to a lot of moderations in the field of internet and extranet security. Customer servicing will also see a sea change where services will be offered irrespective of locations and time. Eventually the regulatory norms with respect to cybersecurity guidelines will also change

  • Vinod Kumar, Head-IT and CISO, Fino Payments Bank

Covid-19 outbreak brought several changes which eventually caused a lot of challenges. While Work From Home emerged as a promising option distribution of responsibilities evenly was a problem. On one hand the rising demand of VPN caused connectivity issues on the other hand giving responsibilities to people adhering to the regulatory guidelines was a matter of concern. Every role is not suitable for Work From Home and everyone is not staying at a their homes, some stay at shared dormitories and hostels where lack of proper space and internet options are limited. Regulators expected us to begin our operations swiftly and continue working without considering the challenges. With all these changes ensuring security was also a tedious task.

  • Manoj K Sarangi, CISO, National Securities Depository Limited

All of us had a Business Continuity plan in place that had consideration for a natural calamity or a pandemic but COVID-19 caused challenges that were beyond imaginations as it brought problems that caused global disturbances. In addition to the other challenges, the pandemic brought a paradigm shift in the way cyber attackers think. Earlier, they attacked corporate houses but now their target is individuals who are using their personal laptops will low security protections due to Work From Home model. Due to the pandemic, new vulnerabilities have been discovered.  Hackers are now making use of the psychological aspect of the situation. However, this will give rise to new opportunities as WFH will be the most preferred option post COVID-19. More and more automation will come into practice.

  • Avez Sayed, Chief Risk Officer, SBI General Insurance

As far as SBI General Insurance is concerned, we were fairly proactive in ensuring pandemic protection and related awareness tour employees. Our first advisory related to the situation was issued in January only. We issued masks and sanitizers long back. We believed in doing Smart work and ensured fast availability of service, availability of required workforce, secured zoom services, digital preparedness and others. VPN is required on immediately and we provided but expectations on IT inflated. The challenge is now everyone wants VPN whether the gravity of their work required strong network or not. Besides thus, we are not allowing people to conduct their official tasks using personal devices or use official VPN for personal video calls. WE are also spreading awareness among our employees by running quiz and webinars on cybersecurity.

  • Ashton D’Cruz, Director – Chief Administrative Officer & CISO, NatWest Markets plc India (The Royal Bank of Scotland Group)

In my view, this is a very interesting situation. With every adversity comes new opportunity and necessity is the mother of new invention. Thus situation will give rise to digitisation and it will stay for long now. Unlike demonetisation, where cash came back to use immediately after the recall, dependency on digital payments will stay post the pandemic. Thus situation will bring more opportunities for third party support system. As the digital adoption will increase, work from home for employees will be the new normal. Regulators will also eventually work on ensuring guidelines to cover the new practices adapted during the pandemic.

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