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Cyber-security is top strategic priority, says CBO

December 31, 2020

MUSCAT, Dec 30
The Central Bank of Oman (CBO) says it is set to collaborate with domestic and international partners to help strengthen the resilience of the Sultanate’s financial system and reinforce the capacity of the financial sector to mitigate and recover from cyber-attacks.
Citing the vulnerability of Oman’s financial sector to potential cyber-attacks, the apex bank affirmed that cyber-security would remain “a top strategic priority” at the Central Bank.
“Off late, the odds and incidences of cyber-attacks have increased,” the regulator noted in its 2020 Financial Stability Report. “Financial institutions are a prime target of cyber-attacks because of the potential for financial gains. Such attacks may be very disruptive as these may not only interrupt the delivery of financial services but may also undermine confidence in the financial system. Large-scale cyber-attacks may even threaten the stability of the financial system,” it warned.
The report noted in particular the potential for some “compromises” in the usual security standards as people work from home to deliver critical services amid the pandemic. “These circumstances have made cyber risks even more relevant than normal times,” the Central Bank warned.
At the same time, it stressed its commitment to supporting the roll-out of new services based on technology and innovation, notably in the realm of fintech. It also stressed its support for the use of cutting-edge technology by the banking sector to make the provision of financial services more efficiency, user-friendly and cost-effective.
Exceptions to the rule are crypto-currencies and speculative fintech products. The Central Bank explained: “While it facilitates the use of advancements in technology by issuing the necessary frameworks and allocating resources commensurate to the underlying cyber-risks, the CBO does not endorse cryptocurrencies or other fintech-based assets that have weak governance or are speculative. Due to this cautious approach, cryptocurrencies or unregulated fintech assets lack the volume to pose any risk to the Omani financial sector,” it added.

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