Cyber Laws and Banking Industry

Mr. Neeraj Soni
Mr. Neeraj Soni
Intern – Policy and Advocacy
Jun 24, 2023


With the increasing reliance on digital technologies in the banking industry, cyber threats have become a significant concern. Cyberlaw plays a crucial role in safeguarding the banking sector from cybercrimes and ensuring the security and integrity of financial systems.

The banking industry has witnessed a rapid digital transformation, enabling convenient services and greater access to financial resources. However, this digitalisation also exposes the industry to cyber threats, necessitating the formulation and implementation of effective cyber law frameworks.

Recent Trends in the Banking Industry

Digital Transformation: The banking industry has embraced digital technologies, such as mobile banking, internet banking, and financial apps, to enhance customer experience and operational efficiency.

Open Banking: The concept of open banking has gained prominence, enabling data sharing between banks and third-party service providers, which introduces new cyber risks.

bank laws

How Cyber Law Helps the Banking Sector

The banking sector and cyber crime share an unspoken synergy due to the mass digitisation of banking services. Thanks to QR codes, UPI and online banking payments, India is now home to 40% of global online banking transactions. Some critical aspects of the cyber law and banking sector are as follows:

Data Protection: Cyberlaw mandates banks to implement robust data protection measures, including encryption, access controls, and regular security audits, to safeguard customer data.

Incident Response and Reporting: Cyberlaw requires banks to establish incident response plans, promptly report cyber incidents to regulatory authorities, and cooperate in investigations.

Customer Protection: Cyberlaw enforces regulations related to online banking fraud, identity theft, and unauthorised transactions, ensuring that customers are protected from cybercrimes.

Legal Framework: Cyberlaw provides a legal foundation for digitalisation in the banking sector, assuring customers that regulations protect their digital transactions and data.

Cybersecurity Training and Awareness: Cyberlaw encourages banks to conduct regular training programs and create awareness among employees and customers about cyber threats, safe digital practices, and reporting procedures.


RBI Guidelines

The RBI, as India’s central banking institution, has issued comprehensive guidelines to enhance cyber resilience in the banking industry. These guidelines address various aspects, including:

Technology Risk Management

Cyber Security Framework

IT Governance

Cyber Crisis Management Plan

Incident Reporting and Response

Recent Trends in Banking Sector Frauds and the Role of Cyber Law

Phishing Attacks: Cyberlaw helps banks combat phishing attacks by imposing penalties on perpetrators and mandating preventive measures like two-factor authentication.

Insider Threats: Cyberlaw regulations emphasise the need for stringent access controls, employee background checks, and legal consequences for insiders involved in fraudulent activities.

Ransomware Attacks: Cyberlaw frameworks assist banks in dealing with ransomware attacks by enabling legal actions against hackers and promoting preventive measures, such as regular software updates and data backups.

Master Directions on Cyber Resilience and Digital Payment Security Controls for Payment System Operators (PSOs)

Draft of Master Directions on Cyber Resilience and Digital Payment Security Controls for Payment System Operators (PSOs) issued by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI). The directions provide guidelines and requirements for PSOs to improve the safety and security of their payment systems, with a focus on cyber resilience. These guidelines for PSOs include mobile payment service providers like Paytm or digital wallet payment platforms.

Here are the highlights-

The Directions aim to improve the safety and security of payment systems operated by PSOs by providing a framework for overall information security preparedness, with an emphasis on cyber resilience.

The Directions apply to all authorised non-bank PSOs.

PSOs must ensure adherence to these Directions by unregulated entities in their digital payments ecosystem, such as payment gateways, third-party service providers, vendors, and merchants.

The PSO’s Board of Directors is responsible for ensuring adequate oversight over information security risks, including cyber risk and cyber resilience. A sub-committee of the Board may be delegated with primary oversight responsibilities.

PSOs must formulate a Board-approved Information Security (IS) policy that covers roles and responsibilities, measures to identify and manage cyber security risks, training and awareness programs, and more.

PSOs should have a distinct Board-approved Cyber Crisis Management Plan (CCMP) to detect, contain, respond, and recover from cyber threats and attacks.

A senior-level executive, such as a Chief Information Security Officer (CISO), should be responsible for implementing the IS policy and the cyber resilience framework and assessing the overall information security posture of the PSO.

PSOs need to define Key Risk Indicators (KRIs) and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to identify potential risk events and assess the effectiveness of security controls. The sub-committee of the Board is responsible for monitoring these indicators.

PSOs should conduct a cyber risk assessment when launching new products, services, technologies, or significant changes to existing infrastructure or processes.

PSOs, including inventory management, identity and access management, network security, application security life cycle, security testing, vendor risk management, data security, patch and change management life cycle, incident response, business continuity planning, API security, employee awareness and training, and other security measures should implement various baseline information security measures and controls.

PSOs should ensure that payment transactions involving debit to accounts conducted electronically are permitted only through multi-factor authentication, except where explicitly permitted/relaxed.

internet banking


The relationship between cyber law and the banking industry is crucial in ensuring a secure and trusted digital environment. Recent trends indicate that cyber threats are evolving and becoming more sophisticated. Compliance with cyber law provisions and adherence to guidelines such as those provided by the RBI is essential for banks to protect themselves and their customers from cybercrimes. By embracing robust cyber law frameworks, the banking industry can foster a resilient ecosystem that enables innovation while safeguarding the interests of all stakeholders or users.

Jun 24, 2023
Tech and Law

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