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    HKMA Enhances Cybersecurity Fortification Initiative

    November 03, 2020

    HKMA launched an upgraded Cybersecurity Fortification Initiative (CFI) 2.0, following industry consultation. Changes have been made to reflect the latest developments in overseas cyber practices, with substantial efforts to be made to encourage cyber threat intelligence sharing across the industry. The initiative is underpinned by three pillars: the Cyber Resilience Assessment Framework (C-RAF), the Professional Development Program (PDP), and the Cyber Intelligence Sharing Platform (CISP). The upgraded initiative will come into effect January 01, 2021 and will be implemented through a phased approach.

    HKMA recently completed a review of the Cybersecurity Fortification Initiative, which was launched in 2016 to raise enhance cyber resilience of the banking system in Hong Kong. The results of the review show that the banking industry is strongly supportive of the Cybersecurity Fortification Initiative. More than 90% of banks found the C-RAF useful, especially in identifying previously unrecognized gaps. All the banks found iCAST helpful in preparing for cyber-attacks. Taking into account the industry feedback during the review, the Cybersecurity Fortification Initiative has been further enhanced to streamline the cyber resilience assessment process. CFI 2.0 has been developed after extensive consultation with the banking industry. Many of the comments received during the consultation have been taken on board. Moreover, recent international sound practices on cyber incident response and recovery have been incorporated into the enhanced control principles under C-RAF. Another enhancement to C-RAF is the introduction of Blue team requirements for Intelligence-led Cyber Attack Simulation Testing (iCAST) to measure the effectiveness of detection, response, and recovery functions of authorized institutions. More flexibility will be allowed for authorized institutions to leverage the results of similar cyber resilience assessments performed by their banking groups or headquarters HKMA has also put forward a series of recommendations to the Hong Kong Association of Banks to make the CISP more user-friendly. 

    HKMA plans to adopt a phased approach to the implementation of C-RAF 2.0. Authorized institutions will be divided into three groups similar to those adopted for C-RAF 1.0. Group 1 will cover all major retail banks, selected foreign bank branches, and new authorized institutions that have not undertaken the C-RAF assessments before. The remaining entities will be included in Group 2 or 3, depending on their scale of operation and cyber-risk profile. HKMA will inform authorized institutions individually of their assigned grouping. The timeline for completing the Inherent Risk Assessment and Maturity Assessment is end of September 2021 for Group 1, end of June 2022 for Group 2, and end of March 2023 for Group 3. For iCAST (applicable to authorized institutions with inherent risk level assessed to be “medium” or “high”), the timelines are end of June 2022 for Group 1, end of March 2023 for Group 2, and end of December 2023 for Group 3.


    Keywords: Asia Pacific, Hong Kong, Banking, CFI, C-RAF, Cyber Risk, CFI 2.0, iCAST, HKMA

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