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A CFO's approach to robust cybersecurity planning

Failing to plan could result in financial and reputational losses, warns security consultant

A CFO’s approach to robust cybersecurity planning

Chief financial officers must create cybersecurity strategies to prevent their businesses falling victim to hi-tech criminals, according to David Biayna Neal, security consultant at MHR.

“Without a strategy in place, an organisation is more susceptible to cybersecurity risks and their potentially devastating consequences,” he said.

Biayna Neal believes a framework helps protect against data breaches, phishing, ransomware, and cyber threats that can cause reputational and financial damage.

“Failing to implement adequate cybersecurity measures can also result in legal consequences, including fines and penalties for non-compliance with regulations like GDPR,” he added.

While cloud-based financial systems have become popular ways for businesses to store sensitive customer data and transaction records, the risks have also increased.

Organised criminal gangs are constantly looking for ways to exploit vulnerabilities, gain access to systems and wreak havoc.

It’s why Biayna Neal believes CFOs must allocate sufficient resources to cybersecurity, including technology investment, staff training and incident response planning.

“They should also work closely with their IT and security teams to assess cybersecurity risks and develop strategies for managing and mitigating them,” he said.

The purpose of a cyberstrategy is to identify potential risks, assess third-party vendors, and set out security controls to be implemented.

“Cybersecurity is an ongoing process that requires constant vigilance and adaptation to evolving threats,” he added. “Companies must regularly reassess their security measures and make necessary adjustments to protect their data effectively.”

How to protect your data

The first step to protecting data is ensuring only authorised personnel can access sensitive information and that it’s encrypted at all times, according to Biayna Neal.

“Keep all software, including operating systems and applications, up to date with security patches to address known vulnerabilities,” he said.

Regularly backing up information and testing restoration processes can guard against data loss, as well as making sure firewalls and intrusion detection systems are in place.

“Establish and enforce comprehensive security policies and procedures that cover data handling, access control, password management, and incident reporting,” he added.

Of course, effective cybersecurity protocols require ongoing guidance for employees, to educate them about data protection and recognising security threats.

According to Biayna Neal, this includes ensuring staff are familiar with security procedures, including acceptable use policies, password management rules, and incident reporting.

“Tailor training programs to employees’ specific roles and responsibilities, emphasising how their actions impact data security,” he suggested.

Teaching employees the importance of choosing strong, unique passwords is vital, he pointed out, as well as highlighting the need for these to be changed regularly.

One way of tackling the threat of cybercrime is partnering with a cloud security provider that uses industry-leading technology to protect customer data.

“Managed service providers can be a cost-effective way for individual organisations to access the best, more expensive toolsets, as they are able to spread the cost over their client base.” he said.

Cloud security providers typically offer around-the-clock monitoring and rapid incident response capabilities, reducing the time between threat detection and mitigation.

“They can scale security measures up or down to align with the organisation’s needs and growth, ensuring that security keeps pace with changes in the cloud environment,” he explained.

They have access to threat intelligence feeds and conduct ongoing research on emerging threats, he pointed out, allowing them to proactively protect against new attack vectors.

“This can help organisations develop and implement effective incident response plans, ensuring a swift and coordinated response to security incidents,” he added.

Guarding against future threats

Looking to the future, Biayna Neal believes that implementing effective cybersecurity policies today will help companies guard against the threats of tomorrow.

“As cyber threats evolve, cloud finance will need to continue to invest in innovative cybersecurity solutions, including behaviour analytics and threat intelligence,” he said.

For example, blockchain technology is expected to gain traction in finance enabling secure and transparent financial transactions, reducing fraud, and streamlining processes.

Real-time payment systems should also become more prevalent, providing faster and more convenient financial transactions for businesses and consumers.

“The future of cloud-based finance is expected to be shaped by emerging technologies, evolving customer demands, and the need for increased efficiency and security,” he said.

Biayna Neal also suggested artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) will be used for fraud detection, risk assessment, predictive analytics, and the automation of routine financial tasks.

“With the increasing value of financial data, cloud finance platforms will implement advanced security measures, including encryption, multi-factor authentication (MFA), and blockchain-based security solutions,” he added.


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