The installation of off-site data replication systems, work stations and telecommunication equipment, and arrangements for uninterrupted supply of currency are all part of actions the Cayman Islands Monetary Authority has taken to strengthen its preparedness, not only for the hurricane season but also for a range of events which could disrupt business.
The Authority’s current disaster recovery/business continuity plan was in development prior to Hurricane Ivan in 2004 and contributed to CIMA’s ability to resume operations one week after that hurricane, said a CIMA press release.
The Authority has been enhancing the plan since that time. A major milestone was reached in May 2005 when the CIMA Board of Directors authorised the leasing of space and services at Deloitte’s Disaster Recovery Centre at Citrus Grove, George Town.
In addition to the DRC facilities, space has also been leased at the Brac Informatics Centre on Cayman Brac. The two facilities allow both automated and manual back-up of critical data from the Authority on a daily basis. This means that information can be recovered and accessed if the computer systems at CIMA’s Elizabethan Square offices become damaged or are made inaccessible due to a hurricane or other event, the release noted.
‘The Board, management and staff of the Authority are very aware of the critical role the Monetary Authority plays in ensuring that Cayman’s financial industry can continue to function immediately after a large-scale disaster,’ said CIMA’s Managing Director Cindy Scotland. ‘We have therefore made business continuity a priority.
‘We were fortunate not to have had any damage to our operating systems or records from Hurricane Ivan. This was partly due to our contingency plans. However we have not been complacent. We have tried to address as many aspects of disaster recovery as we can and to develop safeguards for any type of business threat.’
The DRC will serve as the Authority’s primary operations centre in case of an emergency. The BIC facility provides a second layer of protection.
CIMA has two back up servers and 20 dedicated seats at the DRC. The facility is equipped with laptop and desktop computers, fax machines and other office equipment.
The stations are connected to the Authority via a wide area network. The Authority expects to complete a WAN connection between Elizabethan Square and the Brac during June. Management and members of the Authority’s Board have also been assigned satellite phones to ensure local and international voice connection is maintained in the event that the normal networks go down.
‘The success of these plans depends on our people. The project team, particularly the Information Systems Unit, has worked hard to get the systems installed and functioning in time for the hurricane season,’ Mrs. Scotland commented.
In preparation for an increased demand for cash in the event of a disaster, the Authority has made arrangements with its suppliers De La Rue for prompt supply of back-up stocks of currency held overseas, should this become necessary. Contingency arrangements have also been made with regard to local stocks.
‘For security reasons we cannot disclose details, but the arrangements we have made are designed to ensure the availability of currency as needed, as well as its security,’ said Mrs. Scotland.
One area of continuing concern for the Authority is the safeguarding of paper files. Some submissions from licensees are done electronically (certain returns from banking and insurance licensees, for instance). However, the Authority still receives most of its submissions in paper form.
The current E-reporting initiative for the Investments and Securities Division is part of the plan to address this. Slated for implementation by December this year, the initiative will enable the submission of some statutorily required information via secure online links.
Once this system up and running, CIMA intends to extend it to other divisions. In the meantime, paper files continue to be held in safe-rooms at the Authority. Protocols are in place for how staff handle and secure the files on a routine basis.
The Authority is also looking forward to the development and commissioning of the Government’s category five office complex, which is slated to house CIMA. Mrs. Scotland said this facility would provide an even greater level of protection.
‘Our preparedness efforts are ongoing,’ said the Managing Director. ‘While we still have further work to do in some areas, we are confident that we have achieved a high level of preparedness which will enable us to provide the continuity and support the financial sector will need in the event of a national disaster.’
The following is a list of Blackberry and satellite phone numbers at which members of the Authority can be reached in the event that land lines become inoperable:
Managing Director – (345) 9264401; 881631453699
Deputy Managing Director – (345) 9264406; 881631453701
Head of Banking – (345) 9264407; 881631453704
Head of Fiduciary Services – (345) 9264418
Head of Insurance – (345) 9264403; 881631453702
Head of Investments and Securities – (345) 9264413; 881631453703
PR Executive – (345) 9264419; 881631453582
Chairman – 881631453581
CIMA Emergency Operations Centre (Disaster Recovery Centre)- 881631453698