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Bank of Namibia launches cybersecurity council

THE country’s first Financial Industry Cybersecurity Council was officially launched yesterday by the Bank of Namibia.

The council was set up to develop tactical strategies to combat cyberfraud within the finance industry.

The formation and launch of the council was necessitated by the fact that as connectivity increases, so does the risk of information leaks, security breaches, hacks, and other cyber-security threats, said the central bank’s deputy governor, Leonie Dunn.

“The Covid-19 pandemic’s emergence sparked the acceptance of the fourth Industrial Revolution, as seen in the rising use of digital payments that have become even more pervasive in Namibia’s financial sector,” she said.

She added that the council will provide a productive forum for the banking and non-banking financial sector to foster conversations and develop tactical strategies to combat cyberfraud within the industry, as well as examining problems such as data leaks.

It will also examine Secure Sockets Layer security and phishing and help ensure that issues around cybersecurity within the financial industry receive the necessary priority from all players.

Other objectives include improving the maturity levels of cybersecurity within institutions, and the financial sector as a whole by enabling leaders in information security to share knowledge within and across firms.

The council is also entrusted with ensuring efficiency in cyber-risk management, as institutions can leverage from one another.

The council will convene meetings of experts for a structured dialogue on cutting-edge issues and devise appropriate strategies to mitigate sector-wide threats and vulnerabilities.

Dunn emphasised that cooperation, collaboration and coordination would increase cybersecurity stretches and secure the security of individual institutions, despite the fact that the evolving nature of cybersecurity may be perceived as a danger by some.

“While this is a sector-based intervention, we welcome developments at a national level that are geared towards building resilience and capabilities in cybersecurity. This include the development of a national cybersecurity response plan by the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology. The draft cybercrime bill and the draft data protection bill are among the pieces of cybercrime-related legislation that the Namibian government is currently working on to complete.”

Once the legislative framework is complete, the sector-based intervention will be aligned to the national one, she added.

Outlining the origins of the cybersecurity framework, director of banking supervision Romeo Nel said the bank created rules in 2018 called the Determination of Information Security to address the absence of adequate and fit-for-the-future cybersecurity in the banking sector.

A circular to complement the Determination on Information Security was also rolled out. These efforts, however, were only directed at the banking industry, and the Bank of Namibia realised that the entire financial sector needed to adopt a collaborative and consultative methodology to effectively tackle cybercrime, he said.

The council comprises heads of institutions and deputy governors while the working groups consist of cyber and information security specialists from financial sector regulatory bodies, critical financial market infrastructure, financial sector associations, commercial banks and non-banking financial entities.

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