The online magazine of the Swiss Bankers Association
April 10, 2018


Cybersecurity: recommendations made to the Federal Council

Cybersecurity: recommendations made to the Federal Council

The Federal Council has taken note of the recommendations made by the advisory board for the future of the financial centre regarding protection against cyber risks. The banks welcome the proposed measures.

The advisory board for the future of the financial centre, which was appointed by the Federal Council, advises the Federal Council at a strategic level in selected matters such as cybersecurity. The advisory board comprises representatives of the authorities, the private sector and academia.

Recommendations to the Federal Council

One of the advisory board’s key areas of focus is cybersecurity. This issue is one of the greatest challenges faced by the Swiss financial centre, as was outlined in the board’s annual report. In January 2018, the Federal Council took note of the board’s recommendations for the protection against cyber risks with a focus on digital finance. The advisory board submitted three recommendations to the Federal Council on the issue of cybersecurity:

  • ensuring that the services offered by MELANI in the area of cyber prevention and response can be used by the entire finance industry, and not, as has been the case to date, only by the bigger banks and a few insurers
  • establishing a group of experts for the institutionalised collaboration between specialists in the finance industry and the authorities for questions relating to cybersecurity
  • with this new group of experts, develop the foundations for a financial sector-specific cybersecurity crisis organisation

The banks are highly engaged – also as part of the information & cyber defence group of experts of the Swiss Bankers Association (SBA) – with these issues and on numerous occasions, have contributed to preparatory work in this area. The banks and the SBA therefore support the recommendations of the advisory board. Serious cyber incidents not only damage the institutions in question, but at the same time, also the reputation of the financial centre as a whole. This was stated in the advisory board’s annual report, and recently explained by Federal Councillor Guy Parmelin during a speech he gave. It is therefore only logical that the public sector work closely together with the private sector on this matter.

National strategy for the protection against cyber risks

The background for the recommendations is the National strategy for the protection of Switzerland against cyber risks (NCS) adopted in 2012 by the Federal Council, which is currently being revised. The strategy focuses on three principles in the fight against cyber risks:

  • Responsibility of the private sector for itself. Accordingly, the state should only intervene if public interests are at stake or the individual companies are unable to properly address the situation. Cyber risks are part of the operational risks faced by banks, and the banks are primarily responsible for managing these risks
  • Collaboration between the private sector and the authorities
  • Cooperation with other countries

On 6 March 2018, the National Council accepted a postulate from the security policy committee, which requested a comprehensive strategy for the protection and defence of the civilian and military cyberspace from the Federal Council by the end of the year. The coordination of this request with the recommendations of the advisory board and the NCS will be important.

The recommendations of the advisory board concretise this general direction and will be included in the revision of the NCS for the period from 2018 to 2023. They also meet a need that has been identified for the finance industry. The banking system is rightly considered to be one of the country’s important infrastructures in the sense of the NCS. A challenging matter such as cybersecurity can only be successfully addressed if all stakeholders including the authorities, the private sector and academia work together, a fact that the Federal Council has also underscored.