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Cyber security attacks – FS firms cannot afford to be complacent

26 April 2021

Rising global cyber security attacks threaten the security of all consumers, the chair of the Cyber Security Council has warned.

Speaking at PIMFA’s Financial Crime Cyber Resilience Conference, Dr Claudia Natanson said the unprecedented volumes of data created, used and stored, along with the increased use of smart technology and the growth of ransomware attacks means companies and individuals alike need to be vigilant about how their data is held and shared.

Dr Natanson said: “Data is now the most expensive currency and we have never had so much data. We know many organisations are actually paying ransoms which means they end up hooked on a suckers list because they exploit them continually because they know they will pay.”

According to Dr Natanson, 2.5 quintillion bytes of data are generated every day, with this figure expected to rise to 4.63 quintillion bytes by 2025. At the same time, the Cyber Security Council expects cyber attack breaches to reach 25% over the same period of time.

Companies are currently the target of a ransomware attack every 14 seconds, with this likely to increase to every 11 seconds by the end of 2021, fuelled by the Covid-19 pandemic and changes to the way in which we live and work.

Dr Natanson added: “Organisations need to go back to basics in terms of what they do. Cyber-security has to be demonstrated from the top of an organisation. One of the successes of cyber-crime is the level of collaboration between hackers particularly in terms of encryption for ransomware. We have got to learn to work much closer together and collaborate more as organisations.”

Liz Field, chief executive of PIMFA, said: “It is clear that as we become ever more reliant on technology that firms must remain vigilant to an ever-increasing number of threats that are growing in sophistication. As more services move online, we cannot afford to become complacent about protecting ourselves or our clients. This is among the many reasons why we are campaigning for financial harm to be included in the Government’s upcoming online safety bill.”

Commenting on the warnings, Anthony Rafferty, CEO, Origo, said: “Cyber crime has to be countered at all levels, from Government through chief executives of firms big and small, down to individual members of staff. The criminals have an advantage, they only have to get lucky once, firms have to be vigilant all the time. Good staff training, awareness and employing encrypted technology such as for emails, are hygiene factors for all firms now.”

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