RBI Cyber Security Framework for Urban Cooperative Banks (UCBs)

Baselining Requirements of the RBI Cyber Security Framework for Cyber Risk Management

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has developed a Cyber Security Framework, outlined in circulars DCBS.CO.PCB.Cir.No.1/18.01.000/2018-19 and DoS.CO/CSITE/BC.4083/31.01.052/2019-20, to ensure the security and confidentiality of banking operations in the digital age.

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Rbi cyber security framework

What is RBI Cyber Security Framework Compliance?

The RBI’s Cyber Security Framework, issued in December 2019, establishes a graded approach for UCBs (non-scheduled and scheduled commercial banks) and other regulated entities of the financial sector to enhance their baseline cyber security and resilience. 

It categorizes UCBs into four levels (I-IV) based on factors like digital adoption, payment system integration, cyber risk assessment and third party risks. This facilitates the implementation of security measures tailored to the specific needs and risk profiles of each UCB.

Comprehensive RBI Cyber Security Framework
Compliance Levels

Level i </br> compliance

Level I

Initiate your journey towards enhanced cyber security with Level I controls as outlined in Annex I, a comprehensive checklist to kickstart your compliance process. These foundational measures include a bank-specific email domain with DMARC controls and two-factor authentication for Core Banking Solutions (CBS).

Level ii </br>compliance

Level II

Ascend to an advanced security plane by embracing Level II controls. If your UCB is a sub-member of Centralised Payment Systems and offers internet or mobile banking, achieving Level II compliance is indispensable. The additional controls encapsulate Data Loss Prevention Strategy, Anti-Phishing, and a thorough Vulnerability Assessment and Penetration Testing (VA/PT) of critical applications.

Level iii & level iv compliance

Level III & Level IV Compliance

Propel your security framework to the pinnacle by aligning with Level III and Level IV controls if your UCB hosts its own ATM switch, has a SWIFT interface or is involved in hosting data centers. These levels infuse advanced real-time threat defense, risk-based transaction monitoring, and a structured Cyber Security Operation Center (C-SOC), orchestrating a herculean shield against cyber threats.

Need to know your bank's level according to RBI Guidelines on Cyber Security?

We’ve got you covered. Our comprehensive toolkit helps you determine your bank’s standing in terms of baseline cybersecurity and resilience, as outlined by the RBI guidelines. It includes the tool to check your levels and also  cybersecurity compliance checklist to ensure you’re implementing the necessary measures according to your level.

We want to make sure you don’t have any troubles addressing cyber threats and achieving regulatory compliance.


Building a Robust Cybersecurity Posture: A Step-by-Step Guide for UCBs

Following the exploration of the framework’s key aspects, this section provides actionable steps for Indian Banks especially UCBs to implement the framework effectively.


Conduct a Cybersecurity Risk Assessment

The first step involves conducting a comprehensive security assessment to identify vulnerabilities in UCB’s systems, networks, and processes. This assessment should consider internal threats, external threats, and the specific risk profile associated with the UCB’s digital footprint.

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Cybersecurity Policy and Dedicated Cybersecurity Function

Based on the risk assessment findings, UCBs need to develop a comprehensive cybersecurity policy or information security policy. It can also be expanded into a set of multiple cyber security policies addressing specific areas like password management and mobile device security. This comprehensive policy framework ensures alignment with business and regulatory requirements.

To handle third-party risks, security policy compliance agreements can be established with third-party vendors handling sensitive data. Additionally, a cybersecurity strategy should be formulated, outlining the roadmap for achieving the desired cybersecurity posture.

The framework’s implementation relies heavily on a dedicated cybersecurity function. This function, led by a qualified Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) reporting directly to senior management, can be an internal team or outsourced to a managed security service provider (MSSP). 

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The RBI’s cybersecurity framework outlines cyber security controls for primary (UCBs under Level I and II) and secondary (UCBs under Level III and IV) categories. These controls encompass various aspects of cybersecurity, including:

  • Anti-Phishing and Anti-Rogue Services: Employ phishing detection and rogue application monitoring for timely discovery of external security risks and handling of cyber security incidents by an expert team that provides brand protection and internal and external incident response and incident management for you.
  • Phishing Simulation and Cyber Security Awareness Training: This program helps employees identify and avoid phishing attempts. Through simulated phishing attacks and training modules, employees learn appropriate approach to combat cyber threats and cyber incidents.
  • Network Security: Implementing firewalls, intrusion detection and prevention systems (IDS/IPS), and secure access controls.
  • Data Security: Encryption of sensitive data at rest and in transit, data access controls, and data loss prevention (DLP) solutions.
  • DMARC Mail Security: Implement DMARC controls on your domain and regularly monitor your DMARC reports for any misconfigurations.
  • Security Operation Centre: The SOC is pivotal in monitoring, detecting, and responding to cybersecurity incidents in real time. 
  • Application Security: Secure coding practices, vulnerability assessments and penetration testing of applications.
  • Incident Response: Establishing a well-defined incident response process for timely detection, containment, eradication, and recovery from cyberattacks.
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Develop a Comprehensive Cyber Crisis Management Plan

A well-defined cyber crisis management plan outlines the steps to be taken in the event of a cyberattack. This plan should encompass:

  • Identification and Escalation: Procedures for identifying a cyberattack and escalating it to the relevant stakeholders.
  • Containment and Eradication: Measures to isolate the attack and prevent further damage.
  • Recovery and Restoration: Processes for restoring systems and data to normal operations.
  • Communication and Public Relations: Strategies for communicating the incident to stakeholders and mitigating reputational damage.
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Foster a Culture of Cybersecurity Awareness

Cybersecurity awareness training plays a vital role in mitigating cyber risks. UCBs should conduct regular training programs to educate employees on cybersecurity best practices, including phishing email identification, password hygiene, and reporting suspicious activity.

Ucb rbi cybersecurity continuous improvement
Maintain Continuous Improvement

Cybersecurity is an ongoing process. UCBs need to continuously monitor their cybersecurity posture, conduct regular security testing, and update their security measures based on the evolving threat landscape. Additionally, regular independent compliance checks and audits are crucial for identifying gaps and ensuring adherence to the framework.

Ucb cybersecurity awareness culture

Navigating the RBI Circular on Cyber Security Framework in Banks

Unveiling the essence of RBI’s circular on cyber security framework is the first stride towards fostering a secure banking ecosystem. The circular meticulously details the security controls across all levels, guiding UCBs on the path of compliance.

Acquainting yourself with the RBI cyber security framework checklist is the cornerstone for embarking on a compliance journey. We are here to guide you through each compliance level, ensuring a seamless transition to a fortified cyber security posture.

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Frequently Asked Questions

All that you need to know on RBI Cyber Security Framework!

What is the RBI Cyber Security Framework in banks?

The RBI Cyber Security Framework is a robust blueprint aimed at ensuring a fortified security posture for Urban Cooperative Banks (UCBs) in India. It prescribes incremental security controls, addressing the varying risk profiles and digital service offerings of UCBs.

As per the cyber security framework for ucbs, which banks have been mandated to have a cyber security operations center (c-soc)?

According to the framework, Level IV UCBs should have C-SOC mandatorily.

Level IV are those UCBs which are members/ sub-members of CPS and satisfy at least one of the criteria given below:

  • having their own ATM Switch and having SWIFT interface
  • hosting data centre or providing software support to other banks on their own or through their wholly owned subsidiaries
What is the cyber security framework in India?

The cyber security framework in India is a set of guidelines and standards issued by various authorities, such as the RBI, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY), and the National Critical Information Infrastructure Protection Centre (NCIIPC), to ensure the security and confidentiality of information systems and networks in different sectors, such as banking, telecom, power, etc.

What are the RBI security guidelines?

The RBI security guidelines are a set of rules and recommendations issued by the RBI to regulate the cyber security practices of banks and other financial institutions in India. They cover aspects such as governance, risk management, incident response, audit, awareness, etc.

What is cyber security in digital banking?
Cybersecurity in digital banking ensures protection against online threats through encryption, secure transactions, and ongoing monitoring. It involves robust authentication, employee training, and compliance with regulations to safeguard digital assets and customer information.
How is cyber security used in the banking sector?

In banking, cybersecurity safeguards digital assets through encryption, secure transactions, and continuous monitoring, protecting against cyber threats.

Under what framework RBI operates?

The RBI operates under the legal framework defined by the Reserve Bank of India Act, 1934, which outlines its functions and powers as the central banking authority in India.

Can cooperative banks issue bank guarantee?

Yes, cooperative banks can issue bank guarantees, subject to regulatory guidelines and permissions in their respective jurisdictions.

Are cooperative banks covered under Dicgc?

Yes, cooperative banks in India are covered under the Deposit Insurance and Credit Guarantee Corporation (DICGC) for deposit insurance up to ₹5 lakhs per depositor per bank.

What is the exposure limit of cooperative bank?

The exposure limit for cooperative banks in India is regulated by the RBI, and the specific limits may vary. It is recommended to refer to the latest RBI guidelines for accurate and current information.

Are cooperative banks insured by RBI?

The exposure limit for cooperative banks in India is regulated by the RBI, and the specific limits may vary. It is recommended to refer to the latest RBI guidelines for accurate and current information.

What are the restrictions on cooperative banks by RBI?

The RBI imposes restrictions on cooperative banks, including exposure limits on lending, governance norms, and compliance requirements. Specific restrictions vary and are outlined in RBI guidelines to ensure financial stability and protect depositors’ interests.

What is the RBI technology vision for cyber security?

The RBI’s technology vision for cybersecurity emphasizes enhanced cybersecurity frameworks, threat intelligence, risk management, and collaboration among financial institutions to ensure a secure and resilient financial ecosystem.

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