BSP warns banks against cyberattacks during Holy Week break

Published March 30, 2021, 4:40 PM

by Lee C. Chipongian

The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) issued a warning on Tuesday that banks should not only ensure cash availability and uninterrupted digital services during the long Lent weekend, but to also watch out for cyberattacks which normally increase on extended holidays.

BSP Deputy Governor Chuchi G. Fonacier, in-charge of financial supervision sector, said BSP supervised financial institutions (BSFIs) should be on extra high alert against opportunistic cyber criminals.

“(BSFIs) are reminded to be on guard as cyberattacks and electronic fraud typically intensify during long weekends and holidays,” said Fonacier in a memo she signed on March 29.

BSP Deputy Governor Chuchi G. Fonacier (Bloomberg file photo)

“Scheduled downtime or system upgrades within this period should be properly communicated to customers to enable them to adequately plan their financial transactions,” she added. “Customers should also be reminded to be alert and immediately report to concerned BSFIs any unusual transactions or activities in their account.”

The BSP usually issues memos before Holy Week to make sure the banking sector is ready for any “adverse events affecting availability and security” of digital financial services.

Fonacier said essential financial and banking services should be available to meet the needs of financial consumers.

“With the community quarantine protocols still in place in many parts of the country, BSFIs are expected to continuously monitor availability and security of their ATMs and digital financial platforms such as internet and mobile banking applications during the Holy Week,” she said.

The memo stressed on banks’ monitoring and maintenance of sufficient cash levels of their ATMs to be able to serve customers’ cash requirements.

The BSP itself has already assured the banking public that it will continue to have essential services while on an enhanced community quarantine lockdown from March 29 until April 4.

On Maundy Thursday and Good Friday, however, BSP offices will be closed.

During the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), the BSP will have alternative work arrangements at its headquarters in Manila and at its Security Plant Complex in Quezon City. Critical departments and support units will continue to report on-site, as appropriate, under shortened work hours, from 9am to 3pm, it said in a statement.

“The BSP is also coordinating with the banking industry on the continuous delivery of banking services,” said the BSP.

“The BSP urges all banking personnel, especially frontliners, to carry out necessary protocols against COVID-19,” it added. “The BSP and the banking industry stand ready to ensure the safe and smooth functioning of the banking system.”

Banks’ branches are closed from April 1 until April 4. With ECQ, most big banks have trimmed operations since Monday and they have encouraged clients to transact banking business online.