Banking on a secure digital future

Johannesburg, 20 Dec 2021
Read time 4min 30sec

For years, the financial services industry has taken a slow and steady approach to digital transformation. However, the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic forced financial services organisations to accelerate their cloud migrations and digitisation initiatives.

In a survey of 700 banking IT and business executives from around the world by Accenture, 68% of banking executives say the pace of digital transformation for their organisation is accelerating, but what is more interesting is that 93% believe that organisations are operating with a renewed sense of purpose as a result of the changes forced by the pandemic. This sentiment is echoed in a Deloitte report, which states that it is now abundantly clear that Covid-19 has acted as a catalyst for digitisation.

At MTN, we saw this shift among our financial services customers, all of whom showed an increased demand for additional tools and technologies to ensure that customers and staff could access all of their services and features, even during lockdown. With many solutions to help enable our customers to work remotely, companies were able to access their full capabilities securely and seamlessly. From fixed voice solutions like hosted PBX, to cloud offerings like hosted Exchange and Office 365 Teams routing, MTN solutions will keep your personnel productive. Our comprehensive security offerings ensure peace of mind with your systems, users and applications protected.

Financial services organisations may have started relying more on remote access to their company networks, cloud accounts and video-conferencing tools, but without adequate security and cloud storage capabilities, company resources can become vulnerable. This is partly the reason why the pandemic increased the attack surface of organisations. Attacks against the financial sector increased 238% globally from the beginning of February 2020 to the end of April, with some 80% of financial institutions reporting an increase in cyber attacks, according to VMware.

Rising risks

According to a report by Accenture, “2020 Future Cyber Threats: The latest extreme but plausible threat scenarios in financial services”, malicious threat actors are taking advantage as financial services organisations reconfigure vulnerable supply chains and offer more digital experiences. Working from home has opened a pandora’s box of new attack vectors and workforce challenges — including those from insider threats, the report adds.

With the fourth Covid-69 wave looming, financial services organisations are once again faced with the need to ensure resilience in their operations to avoid business slowdowns.

Even before Covid-19 accelerated investment into technologies like the cloud, cyber attacks in the financial sector were all too common. In the European Central Bank’s annual risk assessment reports, the main risk factors facing the eurozone banking system have not changed significantly over the past three years. These have been increased by the continued digitisation of financial services, the obsolescence of certain banking information systems, and the interconnection with third-party information systems and, by extension, migration to the cloud.

South African financial services organisations face identical problems. A cybersecurity report by Boston Consulting Group found that banking and financial institutes are 300 times more at risk of cyber attack compared to other companies, regardless of their location. Similarly, the cost of data breaches may differ from country to country and region to region, but their impact remains the same.

Protected by partners

Third-party suppliers and service providers can be the weak link in the cyber security chain, but they can also be a valuable first line of defence. By partnering with the right cloud service provider, for example, companies can leverage the cloud as a way to manage their overall cyber exposure.

When an organisation moves even a portion of its ecosystem into the cloud, it is effectively offloading a portion of its cyber security responsibilities to a third-party environment. A cloud partner like MTN that has the skills and capabilities to manage the provisioning and maintenance of the cloud environment as well as the security of all of a company’s systems – whether they are on premises or in the cloud – offers convenience as well as peace of mind.

As technology continues to advance, cyber defenders and adversaries alike will be exploring how to use cutting-edge tools. 5G technology, for example, offers both threats and opportunities for the financial services sector. With organisations still trying to figure out how to combine these new technologies to capitalise on their benefits, they should rely on their partners to ensure that security and privacy are built in to their digital ecosystems from the start.

With the fourth Covid-19 wave looming, financial services organisations are once again faced with the need to ensure resilience in their operations to avoid business slowdowns. The combination of the upcoming year-end holidays and the next wave of the pandemic is sure to give rise to new threats, but with an effective security solution, backed by a partner with the right expertise, financial services organisations can protect their data and users with no performance trade-offs. With this protective ecosystem in place, companies can look forward to a secure end to 2021 and a safe start to 2022.

Editorial contacts
Senior Manager: Public Relations Leigh-Ann Chetty (083) 209 1310
Manager: Communications and Public Relations Mthokozisi Ndlovu (083) 209 2683
See also