TIBER-DE | Increasing the cyber resilience of the financial system

Digiti­sation of the financial sector — Chances & cyber risks

The increasing digital­i­sation of the financial sector not only provides new oppor­tu­nities, but also leads to increased cyber risks. In particular, attacks on the financial system can have serious conse­quences not only for the affected company, but also for the entire public. For this reason, the central banks of the European System of Central Banks have already launched the TIBER-EU (Threat Intel­li­gence-based Ethical Red Teaming) programme in 2018. TIBER-EU serves as a framework for threat-based penetration tests.

In the summer of 2019, the Deutsche Bundesbank and the German Federal Ministry of Finance (BMF) decided to implement TIBER-DE as a national framework for financial companies to test their own resis­tance to cyber attacks. This imple­mention has now taken place.

To whom is TIBER-DE addressed?

TIBER-DE partic­u­larly addresses critical companies in the financial sector, such as large banks and insurance companies and their IT service providers and payment service providers. In its TIBER imple­men­tation, the Deutsche Bundesbank empha­sises that the purpose of conducting TIBER-DE tests is to “establish a network of national companies belonging to the target group in order to improve the cyber-resis­tance of the financial sector in a sustainable and cooper­ative way, together and by conducting TIBER-DE tests.

What happens in a TIBER-DE test?

In a TIBER-DE test, commis­sioned hackers (“Red Team”) use infor­mation from a threat intel­li­gence provider (“spy”) to test the cyber resis­tance of a company. The primary goal is to identify security gaps in the production systems (“critical functions”) within the framework of an attack scenario that is as real as possible. The TIBER-DE test consists of three phases, which are presented here in a shortened form:

  • In the prepa­ration phase the initi­ation, the kick-off, the deter­mi­nation of the test scope and the procurement takes place. In particular, the corre­sponding contracts with all parties involved are concluded, the test scope is deter­mined and the financial super­visory authority is informed about the intended TIBER-DE test.
  • In the test phase, infor­mation on the threat situation is collected and the Red Team penetration test is conducted on the basis of the previ­ously defined test scope.
  • Finally, the final phase includes the prepa­ration of the test reports, a replay and feedback, a remedi­ation plan for found vulner­a­bil­ities as well as a final report and the attes­tation including the transfer of results.

Risks of the TIBER-DE Test

The TIBER-DE test targets the productive systems with the “critical functions” of an institute in order to realis­ti­cally evaluate their cyber-resis­tance. However, this is also accom­panied by risks, e.g. regarding the confi­den­tiality, integrity or avail­ability of the data or systems. In any case, the institute has to perform a detailed risk analysis and take appro­priate measures to minimise the risks before a TIBER-DE test is performed.

Furthermore, companies are confronted with organ­i­sa­tional, technical and data protection challenges. Critical business processes have to be identified, defensive measures have to be estab­lished and documented. In addition, TIBER-DE tests must be coordi­nated with the various stake­holders concerned, e.g. service providers. Furthermore, a confi­den­tiality oblig­ation must be observed by all parties.

Currently the partic­i­pation in TIBER-DE tests is based on a voluntary basis. Along with the not incon­sid­erable risks this seems to be the reason for the hesitation to perform a TIBER-DE test.

Team up for a successful TIBER-DE test

The experts of SRC can prepare a TIBER test together with you. This includes the company-wide scoping of the critical business processes to be tested and support in estab­lishing compliant reporting channels and processes to control and execute TIBER tests. This means that the internal prepa­ra­tions are now in place to have a TIBER-compliant penetration test performed by a service provider. With the experience gained from countless penetration tests, bank compliance and infor­mation security management projects, we are happy to support you through the entire process of a TIBER test.