Cyberattack on Australian financial institution is inevitable, says APRA President Wayne Byres

A cyber attack on an Australian financial institution is inevitable, admits the outgoing chairman of the sector regulator, because the risks are only increasing.

Australian Prudential Regulation Authority chairman Wayne Byres said on Tuesday that the industry was investing heavily in its defenses and that the issue was a top priority for corporate boards cyber attacks were inherently difficult to prepare to counter.

“We all want digital innovation and the benefits of technology, but at the same time we are opening up more and more opportunities for cyberattacks,” Byres, whose term ends this month, told a panel. parliamentary committee on the economy.

“At some point, some sort of event will happen, no matter what defenses you have in place…you have an active adversary, it’s not just an economic variable you’re reacting to, constantly trying to defeat your improved defenses.

Mr Byres said financial institutions were “fairly advanced” on defence, but it was equally important that they work to limit damage and prepare effective responses.

Business cybersecurity has come under intense scrutiny since Optus revealed that the data of millions of customers was exposed in a cyber breach that is now widely investigated.

Mr Byres and other APRA officials were also asked about mortgage stress amid rapidly rising interest rates, with expectations it will increase as more borrowers ease up. ultra-low fixed rates and will refinance.

The authority expects 23% of 2020 borrowers to face some sort of mortgage shock next year, given that rates will be significantly higher.

Small businesses also report slightly higher loan distress than residential borrowers, executives said.

On Tuesday, key figures from the Australian Securities and Investments Commission and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission joined APRA before the committee.

Each has identified climate change risks as imperative for their work ahead, with ASIC bosses revealing they are pursuing several ‘green laundering’ investigations as investors increasingly focus on sustainability claims .

Vice President Karen Chester said the authority was awaiting the results of a review of the use of carbon offset credits to ensure companies’ disclosures were of good quality.

Chairman Joe Longo said it was likely “further developments” in the use and disclosure of carbon credits would come as scrutiny of their use and quality increases.

“The use of representations of greenwashing cuts across the whole economy,” he said, in areas as diverse as food production and service provision.

ASIC also flagged a growing need for involvement in scam prevention to protect consumers, conceding that given “jurisdictional issues” it was difficult to prosecute scam masterminds who were often based in the UK. foreign.

“The Optus incident has heightened interest, but it’s high priority work for us,” Vice President Sarah Court said.

Earlier, the ACCC’s new chair, Gina Cass-Gottlieb, said the agency was pursuing competition law reform so it could take action on breaches of consumer warranties and to improve consumer safety. products.