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Business IQ

Why modern finance needs to think security

Siobhan Coleman
Finance Journalist

Siobhan Coleman is a financial, marketing and lifestyle writer

Siobhan Coleman
Finance Journalist

Siobhan Coleman is a financial, marketing and lifestyle writer

Malicious hacking, data leaks and electronic fraud are an all-too-common occurence in this digital age. So how can the financial services industry prevent sensitive client information from falling into the wrong hands?

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

According to the latest Telstra Cyber Security Report, the number of serious security attacks reported by Australian businesses each month has doubled year-on-year. 

In 2015, Telstra’s security partner, Firstwave, blocked 613 million malicious emails on behalf of its clients’ networks. By the end of this year, Firstwave expect 68 per cent of its client emails will carry malicious content. 

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


However, despite heightening consumer expectations and hacker incidents, the Telstra Cyber Security Report suggests many Australian businesses still operate under the assumption they won’t be affected by cyber security breaches.  

In particular, it suggests the financial industry is ill-equipped to overcome these potential threats. 

A green radar overlaid on a city

Understanding and defending against new threats

Just as our digital landscape is evolving, so too is the sophistication and scale of cyber security attacks.

In the past, cyber criminals typically targeted credit and debit cards. However, as this year’s report reveals, there’s a growing trend among hackers to steal personal identities, details and healthcare information. It’s all highly valuable data that’s 10 times more lucrative* on the black market.

In 2015, typical cyber security attacks involved:

  • Phishing emails (which were up by 29 per cent)
  • More exploit kit-based malware
  • Ransomware based attacks
  • Mobility threats via personal smartphones and tablets

What’s more, within the financial services industry, these attacks have a much larger impact than simply reissuing credit cards – a company’s reputation and consumer trust is at stake.  

The widening security skills gap

But if you’re not entirely sure what “phishing” and “malware” threats entail, you’re not alone. 

As the Telstra Cyber Security Report suggests, many employees are struggling to understand complex security measures and the jargon that surrounds it, while 62 per cent of organisations admitted they have too few skilled professionals available to implement appropriate security activities.

It’s a major factor in why a large number of security breaches are still caused by human error. A simple mistake can result in the loss of valuable customer or corporate information, or disrupt the network and its services. Ensuring that 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 is reliant on these mistakes not being made.

Want to read the white paper?

Check out Telstra’s Cyber Security Report 2016.

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Educating staff

Having your team on the same page naturally leads to being able to better detect, prevent and mitigate security capabilities. It’s all part of protecting sensitive data, ensuring compliance and promoting an efficient workforce.

Here’s a few 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 no organisation can handle alone. Ensuring that businesses you partner with – whether they’re supplying cloud or CRM, payments or process software – are meeting best-practice security protocols can help to limit exposure to threats and minimise risk.

It’s also important to explore opportunities to engage with experts or partners to understand cyber security in a way that everyone, from senior executives to junior staff, can understand and implement on a day-to-day basis.

Complemented with solutions that fit seamlessly into operations and cater for the changing demands of customers when it comes to their financial institution, this knowledge can give businesses the best chance for success. 

Are you concerned about your business security? 

Book your business for a free security health check today.

Find Out MoreAre you concerned about your business security? 

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