At Axis, we pursue a holistic cybersecurity program: Avinash Raghavendra, EVP and Head – IT, Axis Bank


The outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic and its continuing effects posed several challenges across all industries. However, it is also driving the adoption of digital contactless payments and online banking. In addition, the behavior and preferred interactions of customers are changing drastically, and while they are likely to continue to evolve, digital transformation in the banking industry is also expected to continue at a rapid pace. On the one hand, as digitization is at its peak, the growing fear of cyber threats is also a matter of concern. To understand how the pandemic is helping banjos to transform digitally and what are the major challenges related to cyberthreats associated with the digital boom, Rashi Aditi Ghosh of Elets News Network (ENN) interacted with Avinash Raghavendra, Executive Vice President and CIO, Axis Bank.

During the exclusive conversation, he said: “The pandemic has imposed work from family culture within the organization. As a result, technology has become even more important in our personal and professional lives. It has also led to a significant increase in the overall number of cyber attacks (phishing, fraudulent websites and direct attack on the organization, etc.).

Except :

Covid has brought several challenges across the banking sector. How has he leveled the roles and functions of CIOs (Chief Information Officers)?

A major impact of the pandemic has been the digital switchover, which has been sudden and accelerated. In this digital world, organizations that innovate and repeat are quickly gaining a decisive advantage. The priority for every post-COVID CIO was simply business continuity and speaking on behalf of my CIO community on this aspect, everyone and every institution rose to the challenge in due time. However, the duration of the lockdown and large-scale global supply chain disruption impacting the availability of critical components were not anticipated. More agile organizations have changed course and accelerated towards alternatives like the cloud, etc.

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We have witnessed this unprecedented phase of skills shortage in the industry due to this rush to digital adoption in organizations and industries. Here we are no longer competing with our industry peers, but across industries, some with deep pockets, for talent. This has forced CIOs to consider which skills should remain in-house versus what can be outsourced to trusted partners. The last 18 months have been an interesting and stimulating phase for all Tech professionals!

Technological dependence after the pandemic has also increased the risk of cyber threats. How does Axis Bank protect itself against adversity?

The pandemic has imposed a work-from-home culture among organizations. As a result, technology has become even more important in our personal and professional lives. It has also led to a significant increase in the overall number of cyber attacks (phishing, fraudulent websites and direct attack on the organization, etc.).

In the middle of it all Axis Bank The approach has always been to pursue a holistic cybersecurity agenda with a comprehensive cybersecurity policy and standards based on industry best practices in accordance with regulatory guidelines.

The Bank has deployed its cybersecurity structure and framework based on the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) standard. The Bank’s cybersecurity framework is built and operated around five core areas, including Identify, Protect, Detect, Respond and Recover. The bank complies with ISO27001 and PCIDSS standards. The Bank has a 24/7 security operations center and a cybersecurity operations system. 100% of the Bank’s digital products are under Dark Net surveillance. In addition, we also work with our vendor partners (over 400) and continuously monitor their cyber resistance scores based on cyber resistance like the BitSight Index. Eternal vigilance is the only mantra here.

How has technology leadership changed recently for banks? Are tech-leaders now the face of their banks?

The pandemic has put digital engagement at the forefront of almost every business. Significant engagement in digital channels requires a strong technological backbone, which the Bank had already envisioned. The Bank has always viewed technology as an essential tool to distinguish itself from its peers. The success of a digital transformation and an agile way of working requires that the entire organization understands and appreciates technology.

AT Axis Bank, we have a program called “Technology Masterclass” which emphasizes driving technology as a culture throughout the organization, including senior management. So basically the idea is to make everyone a Tech Leader!

How are you harnessing disruptive technologies like AI, blockchain and the cloud?

The Bank started the capacity building process over 3 years ago, with pilot projects in the areas of RPA, AI and Cloud. We are the first bank to create 3 landing zones (AWS, Azure and GCP) to support our multi-cloud strategy. we have ~ 50 cloud apps. In line with the vision, most of our new initiatives are in the cloud or are cloud ready.

Likewise, on AI Bank has deployed more than 100 use cases of AI and is working on the deployment of AI at scale. Some interesting use cases have been explored here, such as examining AI-based bank guarantee clauses. This has helped us improve the turnaround time of bank guarantee issuance and improve the ability to identify and review onerous clauses in BG issuance applications, thereby improving quality and compliance. instructions.

Also read: The banking sector goes from monolithic to reactive configuration: Alok Bansal, MD, Visionet Systems India and Global Head of BFSI business

We are leading a unit within our Tech department to focus on various opportunities using Blockchain. An example of the same is Remittances on Ripple, which was implemented a few years ago.

How does Axis Bank plan to further accelerate its digital transformation by 2022?

The Bank has embarked on a transformation journey to prepare for the future. As the foundations are being built to propel the Bank to become best-in-class in key areas, the Bank will continue to step up in the areas of faster delivery of technology products, enabling critical capabilities and focusing on improving resilience. The Bank has seen significant progress in targeted results as it continues to build on the initial success.

Presentation: The Bank started the capacity building process about 3 years ago, with pilot projects in the areas of RPA, AI and Cloud.

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