01 December 2016

SWIFT Institute issues cyber challenge to Canadian students

SWIFT Institute Student Challenge offers Canadian students reward for new cyber security solutions.

Brussels, 30 November 2016 – The SWIFT Institute announces the launch of the 2017 Student Challenge, open to students of recognised universities and colleges across Canada. The competition asks participants to examine new methods of protection for banking channels to combat the increasing sophistication of cyber threats.

The SWIFT Institute Student Challenge 2017 will focus on attempts to secure the increasing number of communication channels that banks are now using. Canadian mobile banking has seen strong growth in 2016, with 34 percent of bank customers using mobile as a channel, up from 27 percent in 2015 and 20 percent in 2014. Passwords, two-factor authentication, physical and digital tokens are all currently used as methods of protection, yet with cyberattacks growing ever-more sophisticated new safeguards are required. Submissions are in the form of an on-line written report no longer than 1,000 words that will be judged by senior members of the financial industry and a number of senior SWIFT staff.

“Cyber security is a critical issue for today’s financial system,” says Peter Ware, Director of the SWIFT Institute. “It is inevitable that there will be more attacks on the financial services sector and that some will be successful. This means that the financial industry as a whole needs to work even harder at improving collective defensive efforts. While SWIFT is fully engaged in helping the industry face this challenge through its Customer Security Programme, we believe that young minds in today’s institutions of higher learning also have an important role to play.”

Each of the ten finalist teams will be invited to send two members to present their ideas at the world’s premier annual financial industry conference, Sibos, taking place in Toronto in October 2017. The SWIFT Institute will support two members of each of the top ten finalist teams with a presentation coaching and mentoring workshop ahead of the showcase. The winning applicant will be awarded a cash prize of 20K CAD.

“Cyber-attacks are growing in number and sophistication,” says Anne Suprenant, Head of Canada at SWIFT. “Banks are now interacting with customers through a growing array of digital channels and cyber-criminals are continuously testing these channels for gaps in security to commit fraud. Canadian university and college students are part of the millennial customer base that is driving the take-up of new banking channels such as mobile, and as such are well placed in terms of mindset to help devise methods to make cyberattacks more difficult in the future.”

Applications to the 2017 SWIFT Institute Challenge will be accepted until 30 June 2017. The successful applicants will be announced in July, they will be given a coaching workshop on 15 October, and will ultimately present at Sibos between 16-19 October. Applicants will be judged on the innovative attributes of their solutions, and their practical application to the banking sector and its customers.


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