Hong Kong CIO talk cyber security

Article, CIO Tech Team , CIO Tech Asia

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Speech by Victor Lam, JP, Government Chief Information Officer shares insights and knowledge of cyber security.

The emerging technologies such as fintech, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Internet of Things (IoT) have presented both opportunities and challenges to enterprises.

These technologies together with innovative ideas are catalysts for enhancing or even transforming business operations.

We in the Government have been promoting the adoption of emerging technologies to improve the quality of public service. For example, we have introduced chatbot functions to the GovHK portal to facilitate search and use of digital government services and are piloting on the use of chatbot in 1823 public enquiry services. Besides, a number of government departments are using Blockchain technology in application areas such as optimisation of business operations, improvement of traceability and monitoring of products.

While new technologies bring agility and flexibility to businesses, they also create a more vulnerable IT environment than before if the associated risks are not effectively managed.

Since early this year, the COVID-19 epidemic has significantly changed the ways we work. Many organisations have switched to remote working and virtualised their business services. However, cyber-attacks exploiting vulnerabilities in remote working settings have increased significantly. At the same time, phishing attacks riding on the theme of COVID-19 have also been rampaging. Effective IT governance with injection of resources is therefore essential in tackling the imminent cyber threats while unleashing the potential of innovation and technologies to reinvigorate business vitality.

As an effort to facilitate business’s fight against the epidemic, the Government launched the Distance Business (D-Biz) Programme under the Anti-Epidemic Fund earlier this year, which aimed to provide financial support for enterprises to continue their business during the epidemic through adoption of IT, including cyber security solutions. Local enterprises can also apply for funding support under the Technology Voucher Programme (TVP) to improve their productivity and transform their business operations by adopting new technologies, as well as enhance their cyber defence capability.

The Government and our partners are committed to securing Hong Kong’s cyber environment with a series of measures to enhance the defence capabilities of the community, in particular in relation to adoption of new technologies and tackling new risks. I would like to highlight some of them here.

Information sharing is a critical success factor to combat security challenges presented by rapid technological changes. To nurture the sharing culture, the Government has since 2018 run a Partnership Programme for Cyber Security Information Sharing. The Programme enables the exchange of information on cyber security threats, mitigation measures and best practices, including the proper and safe use of new technologies in a trusted environment.

Well received by the stakeholders, the Programme now has more than 300 member organisations, from a wide spectrum of sectors such as finance and insurance, public utilities, transport, healthcare, telecommunications, innovation, and technology, etc. Your organisations are encouraged to join as members to learn and share cyber security information and help make Hong Kong a secure place to conduct business using innovative technologies.

To cope with the ever-changing cyber security landscape, the Hong Kong Monetary Association announced in early November the launch of an upgraded Cybersecurity Fortification Initiative (CFI) 2.0 to facilitate the development of FinTech in a secure manner. This upgraded version, to be effective on 1 January 2021, will further streamline the cyber resilience assessment process while maintaining effective control standards that are commensurate with the latest technology trends. This will ultimately raise the cyber resilience of the banking sector to an even higher level.

To promote the wider adoption of emerging technologies such as Internet of Things and cloud computing in a secure manner, the Government is reviewing its IT security policy and guidelines with reference to the latest international standards and industry best practices. We expect to complete the review in the coming few months and publish them for reference by the public.

To conclude, even though cyber threats always come along with new technologies, the latter will bring about unprecedented opportunities for businesses to enhance their competitiveness. The Government will continue to support local enterprises and the community as a whole to adopt new technologies and at the same time guard against cyber-attacks.