The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has issued a circular to all financial institutions, directing them to tighten their customer verification processes. This follows the recent cyber attack at SingHealth, one of Singapore's two major healthcare groups, where personal information of 1.5 million individuals was illegally accessed and stolen.
With immediate effect, to address any risk that the information stolen from SingHealth may be used by fraudsters to impersonate customers and perform unauthorised financial transactions, all financial institutions should not rely solely on the types of information stolen (name, NRIC number, address, gender, race, and date of birth) for customer verification. Additional information must be used for verification before undertaking transactions for the customer. This may include, for instance, One-Time Password, PIN, biometrics, last transaction date or amount, etc.
MAS has also directed all financial institutions to conduct a risk assessment of the impact of the SingHealth incident on their existing control measures for financial services offered to customers, including transaction and inquiry functions. Financial institutions are to take immediate steps to mitigate any risks that might arise from the misuse of the compromised information. MAS will engage financial institutions on their risk assessments and mitigation steps.
For access to online financial services, banks in Singapore are already required to put in place two-factor authentication (e.g. PIN and One-Time-Password) at login to identify their customers. Banks are also required to implement an additional layer of control to authorise high-risk transactions.
Financial institutions also already have in place robust measures to verify customer identity. Personal information (name, NRIC number, address, date of birth, etc) is generally not used as the sole means of verification by financial institutions as these are often freely given out by members of the public for various purposes, such as when filling out lucky draw coupons or surveys.
MAS’ Chief Cyber Security Officer Tan Yeow Seng said, “MAS will work closely with the financial institutions to ensure that robust cyber defences are in place so that customers can carry out online financial transactions with confidence. But customers must also play their part. They must safeguard their passwords and practise good cyber hygiene. If they suspect any fraudulent transactions in their accounts, they should notify their banks immediately.”