The Austrian Financial Market Authority (FMA) has developed its own blackout stress test, the “Blackout Maturity Level Assessment, which has been conducted for the first time for Pensionskassen (pension funds). Its objective is to evaluate the vulnerability of financial service providers towards the risk and the consequences of a blackout. In a next step, this new supervisory tool will be applied to insurance undertakings, and subsequently to other financial service providers.
“Current developments – such as the consequentces of the Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, increasing numbers of cyber attacks, or turbulence in the gas and oil markets – have shown dramatically how fragile and vulnerable our energy supply system is,” remarked the FMA’s Executive Board, Helmut Ettl and Eduard Müller: “In the complex and globally connected digital world, energy supply failures, especially power outages, cab paralyse infrastructure as well as households and businesses for longer periods of time, and pose substantial challenges; similarly also for the financial markets and their service providers. It is therefore particularly important the providers in such markets are prepared for such a risk scenario. With our new supervisory tool the “Blackout Maturity Level Assessment” we are sensitising market participants about such risks, boosting awareness and are helping to advance timely preparation with regard to such risks.”
Blackout Maturity Level Assessment – a new supervisory tool
The FMA’s Blackout Maturity Level Assessment assesses the maturity of measures in three distinct phases: preparation for a potential blackout, managing and reacting in the event of a blackout, as well as restarting and restoring operations following a blackout. Overall, Austrian Pensionskassen have performed well in all three stages of the assessment: 50% of them met all the criteria necessary for the highest level of blackout maturity, 38% met those of the medium level of maturity, with only 13% classified as having a low level of blackout maturity. The best results were observed with regard to general preparations for a potential blackout as well as measures intended to be taken in the event of a blackout. The largest potential for improvement were identified for the phase regarding restarting a resumption of normal operations.
In the phase relating to “preparation” for a blackout, analysis was conducted for preparatory measures for safeguarding the continuity of the the information and communication technology infrastructure (ICT Business Continuity Policy), how this was taken into consideration in business continuity plans, the composition and organisation of the emergency task force, risk assessments and business impact analyses as well as the involvement of external know-how as well as regular business continuity plan tests. For the “Management & Reaction” phase, the criteria for triggering the business continuity plans, protection of ICT infrastructure and information security, the security of the operating premises, working instructions and employee training as well as the emergency power supply. The “Restart & Resumption” phase focussed on emergency operation until the return to a stable state as well as the resumption of normal business operations.
A summary of the results for the Pensionskassen can be found in the “Blackout Maturity Level Assessment 2022” report (in German only) at: https://www.fma.gv.at/pensionskassen/offenlegung/lage-der-oesterreichischen-pensionskassen/
Journalists may address further enquiries to:
Klaus Grubelnik (FMA Media Spokesperson)
+43/(0)676 882 49 516