MAS Beefing Up Expertise on Cyber Security

SINGAPORE — Noticing an increase in demand for insurance against cyber-attacks in the past few years, MAS (Monetary Authority of Singapore) is now working together with academics and organizations to strengthen its expertise in underwriting risks, said Lawrence Wong, Singapore´s Second Finance Minister.

During his speech at the General Insurance Association´s 50th anniversary, Minister Wong stated that MAS is trying to better understand insurers´ exposure to cyber threats by working on standardizing policy definitions and collecting data on cyber loss. Additionally, MAS is looking to enhance the relevance of insurance coverage and, as a part of those efforts, has started research projects on cyber-risk management and the models and analytics that can support the growth of the cyber-insurance marketplace. “The risk and damage of cyber-attacks against companies and customers in general is constantly increasing — mostly due to the growth of digital and mobile applications. Still, these new risks are still somewhat unknown and most businesses are not insured or are inadequately covered by traditional insurance.” added Minister Wong.

It is expected that the cyber security market in Asia-Pacific will continue to grow at a rate of 15% per year. Since cyber insurance premiums have also risen at an annual rate of 38% over the last 5 years, and are expected to reach US$ 7.5 billion by 2020, Minister Wong said this presents a huge market opportunity.

Back in 2015, while announcing the Smart Nation Initiative, Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong highlighted that cyber security is a vital part in Singapore´s smart ecosystem. Singapore has partnered with like-minded countries so they can collaborate on initiatives in cyber security. Besides supporting the regional CERT through the annual ASEAN CERT Incident Drill exercises, MAS has set minimum expectations and guidelines for financial institutions to manage their own cyber security and technology risk and will supervise this through onsite and offsite inspections. Last year, in his speech at the Asia Cyber Risk Summit, Executive Director of MAS, Mr. Bernard Wee, said he expected financial institutions to implement strong defenses in their IT systems. In line with that, Singapore´s Trade and Industry Minister, Mr. Lim Kiang, said that all banks need to take a holistic approach to address evolving cyber threats.

As the number of online security breaches in Singapore continues to increase, organizations must ensure they are prepared and able to detect and manage the range and magnitude of today’s threats. Financial institutions will need to have granular control over their sensitive data, easy management of access policies and threat vulnerabilities which allows them to detect abnormal application usage behaviour and make a proactive risk assessment of all their distribution channels.

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