HKMA Makes Backup a HK Banking Concern

Image credit: iStockphoto/drante

Backup never got the attention it deserves. 

The barrage of press releases and announcements begging for attention on Office 365 backup concerns, for example, shows how much companies are not paying attention to such issues. 

Ransomware changed the conversation. It also put a dollar amount for poor backups. The seemingly simple social engineering hack has taught many companies an expensive lesson on why backup and recovery are essential. 

Hackers are also beginning to target backup copies so that companies will pay up. And those companies that focused on the backup, but gave scant regard to recovery, found themselves paying ransom anyways as the customers clamored for attention.

Now, Hong Kong regulators are getting into the backup game. And as with regulators, whatever they say will shape the future of an industry. 

HK companies see the need for backup (finally)

In a recent press conference, Joseph Chan, regional director for Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan at Veeam Software, argued that companies are beginning to understand the need for better backup and recovery. 

“Nowadays, people are combining security plans with better recovery times and backup immutability together,” he observed. 

It is easy to see why. COVID-19 has driven many companies to the cloud, many adopting SaaS software for their hybrid workforces. 

Backup becomes the last line of defense when a hacker infiltrates a company, or there is a security breach. If the backup copies don’t recover fast enough, you lose consumer trust. And that’s a big thing in a swipe-ready world where customers aren’t in the mood to give second chances. 

Hong Kong companies are beginning to understand the value of backup. 

Chan noted that his company’s Veeam Backup for Microsoft Office 365 solution saw 58% growth year-on-year in Q2 2021, making it the fastest-growing product. 

Over half (53%) of Hong Kong companies are also using a third-party backup product or service to backup their Microsoft Office 365 data, the recent Veeam Data Protection 2021 noted.  

Regulators seek better immutability

Chan also pointed to another reason why backup is becoming important — regulators. 

In Hong Kong, the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA), the territory’s banking regulator, invited the Hong Kong Association of Banks (HKAB) to develop the Security Tertiary Data Backup (STDB) Guideline. 

Essentially, HKMA views STDB (an unfortunate name, though) as an effective measure to enhance cyber resilience and data security of Authorized Institutions (AIs), which are essentially your Hong Kong banks. 

HKMA endorsed the STDB Guideline on April 30, 2021, and all major banks and branches are required to submit their assessments by the end of this November. 

Chan noted that this significant development has made many banks relook at their backup practices and processes. 

The major problem is that many banking core systems still run on legacy infrastructure. As a result, many of them are not designed to work in a cloud-driven environment and meet today’s recovery speeds. 

“Many legacy systems nowadays are doing backup but don’t have much protection in terms of the speed of the recovery and the backup functionality. They are not meeting the SLA requirements of the organization.  This is becoming a major issue as cyberattacks and ransomware are on the rise,” said Chan. 

Many banks are also containerizing data to become agiler and data-driven — an area which the Veeam study reported was surging in Hong Kong.

HK’s future at stake

It is clear why HKMA is in a rush to implement STDB. 

Hong Kong already has eight virtual banks that are amassing customer details. Traditional banks are also busy digitalizing their operations, with parts of their infrastructure sitting in the cloud. 

Then you have the closer integration with the mainland through Wealth Management Connect, a cross-border channel for retail investment into the Greater Bay Area. Without a solid industry plan for data security, these integrations may cost the banks street credits. 

Now, as regulators turn the screws on banking data, you can bet this surge in backup and recovery interest will only accelerate. 

For banking customers, this is undoubtedly good news. 

Winston Thomas is the editor-in-chief of CDOTrends, DigitalWorkforceTrends, and DataOpsTrends. He is always curious about all things digital, including new digital business models, the widening impact of AI/ML, unproven singularity theories, proven data science success stories, lurking cybersecurity dangers, and reimagining the digital experience. You can reach him at [email protected].
Image credit: iStockphoto/drante