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92% of financial services firms increased cybersecurity investment this year

07 Nov 2020

65% of large financial services (FS) firms have suffered a cyber-attack in the last 12 months, according to new research released today from data security provider HelpSystems.

The report conforms to the pattern seen throughout this year — that the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the risk from cyber-attacks. Indeed the report, which surveyed 250 CISOs and CIOs from FS firms across the world, revealed that 45% of respondents reported an increase in cyber-attacks since the pandemic first emerged. 

47% of FS firms have increased the investment in secure collaboration tools, a sign of the surge in reliance on tools that facilitate remote working. The report further revealed that securing the remote workforce has become a ‘key objective’ for 42% of the surveyed firms.

Meanwhile, a massive 92% of these FS organisations increased their cybersecurity investment over the previous 12 months — 26% significantly so. The primary investment priorities for CISOs over the next 12 months include secure file transfer (64%), protecting the remote workforce (63%) and cloud/Office365 (56%).

“It’s a highly challenging cybersecurity landscape for the financial services sector, with many CISOs focused on battling day-to-day threats alongside trying to achieve broader strategic objectives,” says HelpSystems CEO Kate Bolseth. 

“Technology is a key part of cybersecurity of course, and no organisation will ever be secure without the right security solutions to protect the organisation here and now. 

“But of equal importance, especially for longer-term strategic goals, is ensuring the right processes are in place and educating and training employees.”

Security weaknesses in the supply chain and the proliferation of remote working situations were identified as the two threats with the most potential to cause damage in FS firms, at 46% and 36% respectively.

The research also found that around one-third of respondents had reacted quickly to update their regulatory best practices, while 46% had re-evaluated their cybersecurity training and policies to better reflect the increased home working.  

Almost half of the respondents felt COVID-19 had accelerated changes that were already in discussions, such as a move to Office 365. Such changes form part of broader digital transformation strategies, which was seen as the main challenge facing FS firms, according to HelpSystems.

“FS is such an important sector, the backbone of the global economy, so keeping it secure and operational is a major priority,” says Bolseth. 

“Cyber-attacks are growing in volume and severity, so FS firms need to not only protect the organisation against day-to-day threats, but also make the transition to digital, meet regulatory demands, and secure a remote workforce in the light of COVID-19. 

“It’s really tough and there’s no silver bullet, just constant evolution in the face of the changing threatscape.”

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