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Business IQ

Why modern finance needs to think security

Smarter Writer
Smarter Team

The Smarter Team is made up of business and technology journalists who write to offer insights to small and medium businesses about technology, business know-how and emerging trends.

Smarter Writer
Smarter Team

The Smarter Team is made up of business and technology journalists who write to offer insights to small and medium businesses about technology, business know-how and emerging trends.

Malicious hacking, data leaks and online scams are a growing concern. So, how can the financial services industry prevent sensitive client information from falling into the wrong hands?

A green radar overlaid on a city

The world is embracing connectivity and new technologies, but as more information is shared through connected business ecosystems, sensitive data is increasingly vulnerable to cyber security breaches – particularly in finance operations as they are high value targets.

According to the Telstra Business Intelligence report on Managing Risks Online the number of online security incidents in Australia increased by 40% in just one quarter in 2020.

Customers expect their personal and financial information to be protected from unauthorised disclosure and use. At the same time, shareholders and investors insist on establishing effective controls to avoid liabilities and litigation.

Despite heightening consumer expectations and hacker incidents, the Managing Risks Online report found that 44% of Australian businesses surveyed said they could be doing more to protect their business from online attacks.

Can your business afford an attack?

When it comes to online security, experts say it pays to be proactive.

Access free reportCan your business afford an attack?

Understanding and defending against new threats

In the past, cyber criminals may have typically targeted credit and debit cards. However, there’s a growing trend among hackers to steal personal identities, details and healthcare information. Things you might not expect, like customers’ birthdays and your employees’ names, can be valuable to criminals.

Common cyber security attacks can include:

  • Phishing emails
  • Malware
  • Ransomware attacks
  • Mobility threats via personal smartphones and tablets

For any business, these attacks have much larger implications than simply reissuing credit cards – your reputation and consumer trust is at stake.

Educating staff

It’s important to make sure your team is equipped to detect, prevent and mitigate security incidents. It’s part of protecting sensitive data, ensuring compliance and promoting an efficient workforce. The Managing Risks Online report found that many businesses don’t fully understand the need for business-grade cyber security or always know how to identify a threat. Many security breaches are caused by human error and a simple mistake can result in the loss of valuable customer or corporate information, or disrupt the network and its services. Making sure education and protocols are in place to prevent staff compromising the network (and client information with it) isn’t optional any more. The reputation and bottom line of your business depends on it.

Where to start

There are fundamental steps finance operations can take to help mitigate threats:

  1. Put a comprehensive, full-time cyber security strategy and plan in place
  2. Check your anti-virus and anti-malware software is up-to-date and active
  3. Ensure your IT department speaks in laymen’s terms when communicating security issues
  4. Educate your staff about phishing and malware
  5. Hold regular briefing sessions on potential security risks and business impact
  6. Implement tools to provide real-time auditing of use of unauthorised cloud applications and potential data exposures

Enlist the help of experts

Cyber security is a significant issue and one that your business might not be ready to handle without the help of an expert. Consider engaging an expert partner who can help you embed cyber security into your business in a way that everyone, from senior executives to junior staff, can understand and implement on a day-to-day basis. You should also consider how secure the businesses you partner with is and whether they are meeting best-practice security protocols. Checking this can help to limit exposure to threats and minimise risk.

Along with solutions that fit seamlessly into operations and cater for the changing demands of customers, prioritising cyber security can give businesses the best chance for success.

*Originally published on April 20th 2016. Updated February 23rd 2021.

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