An international consultant on anti-money laundering has recommended that the Philippine government ease its bank secrecy law to allow for easier coordination between banks and the police in the event of a cyber-attack.

Stephen Cutler said reforms must immediately be instituted, amid the $81-million bank heist.

“I think there are some issues that the Philippine banking industry, the financial industry needs to coordinate more clearly with the police, with the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI). This is one of the reasons why I’d like to see some reforms [on] the bank secrecy law because right now, the banks are prohibited from telling the police, the NBI, the regulators about some of the issues they are facing,” Cutler said.

READ: $81-M bank heist may be biggest in Asia: Int’l consultant

Comparing the Philippines’ rules to America’s or to Europe’s, Cutler said they may have strong privacy rules, but they also have provisions to allow extraction of information about specific accounts without court orders or written permissions from account owners.

Although he has previously said in an interview that the cyber heist could be the ‘biggest’ in Asia, he didn’t want Filipinos to panic as he is confident that the Philippines is not completely defenseless.

He lauded Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas’ (BSP) Circular 808 and Cyber Security Summit that has considerably raised awareness in tightening cyber defenses, but maintained that it could still be fortified.

With the increasing number of mobile devices and the ‘internet of things,’ he is concerned on how the weakest link in the chain could be the point of infiltration. He said, however, that this could be prevented.

“I think it can be done, but it hasn’t been yet because people weren’t thinking; but as we begin to have more and more security consciousness from the days of the first pencil-drawn sketch of a plan, we’re gonna find security awareness growing and growing. The other thing is making sure that security patches are applied on a relatively regular basis.”