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    ESAs Publish Advice on Cybersecurity and Management of ICT Risk

    April 10, 2019

    ESAs published two pieces of Joint Advice in response to the requests of EC in its March 2018 FinTech Action Plan. One Joint Advice pertains to the need for legislative improvements related to Information and Communication Technology (ICT) risk management requirements in the EU financial sector. The second Joint Advice pertains to the costs and benefits of a coherent cyber resilience testing framework for significant market participants and infrastructures within the EU financial sector.

    Regarding the need for legislative improvements, in developing the Joint Advice, ESAs' objective was that every relevant entity should be subject to clear general requirements on governance of ICT, including cybersecurity, to ensure the safe provision of regulated services. Guided by this objective, the proposals presented in the Advice aim to promote stronger operational resilience and harmonization in the EU financial sector by applying changes to their respective sectoral legislation. Incident reporting is highly relevant to ICT risk management and allows relevant entities and authorities to log, monitor, analyze, and respond to ICT operational, ICT security, and fraud incidents. Therefore, ESAs call for streamlining aspects of the incident reporting frameworks across the financial sector. Furthermore, ESAs suggest that a legislative solution for an appropriate oversight framework to monitor the activities of critical third-party service providers should be considered.

    Regarding the costs and benefits of a coherent cyber resilience testing framework, ESAs see clear benefits of such a framework. However, there are significant differences on the maturity level of cybersecurity, across and within financial sectors. In the short-term, ESAs advise to focus on achieving a minimum level of cyber-resilience across the sectors, proportionate to the needs and characteristics of the relevant entities. Furthermore, ESAs propose to establish, on a voluntary basis, an EU-wide coherent testing framework, with other relevant authorities (taking into account the existing initiatives) and with a focus on Threat Lead Penetration Testing. In the long-term, ESAs aim to ensure a sufficient cyber maturity level of identified cross-sector entities.

    To implement the proposed actions, ESAs highlight the required legal basis and explicit mandate, which is necessary for development and implementation of a coherent resilience testing framework across all financial sectors by ESAs in cooperation with other relevant authorities. EC, in the March 2018 FinTech Action Plan, had specifically requested ESAs to map, by the first quarter of 2019, the existing supervisory practices across financial sectors around ICT security and governance requirements and, where appropriate, to consider issuing guidelines aimed at supervisory convergence and enforcement of ICT risk management and mitigation requirements in the EU financial sector and, if necessary, to provide EC with technical advice on the need for legislative improvements. EC had also requested ESAs to evaluate, by the fourth quarter of 2018 (now Q1 2019), the costs and benefits of developing a coherent cyber resilience testing framework for significant market participants and infrastructures within the EU financial sector.


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    Keywords: Europe, EU, Banking, Insurance, Securities, Fintech, Cyber Risk, ICT Risk, Operational Risk, Fintech Action Plan, Cyber Resilience, ESAs

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