Why companies fail in cybersecurity

The need to focus on preventing financial crime has never been stronger, but even as the cybercrime menace proliferates inadequate resources are still being directed at the threat

Well over a trillion US dollars was lost globally in 2018 due to the ever-growing and increasingly pervasive financial menace that is cybercrime.

This staggering figure, greater than the GDP generated by most national economies during the year, was revealed in a recent Refinitiv report. The authors warn that hackers and criminals involved in financial crime are emboldened by businesses that lack prevention tools to ward against this practice.  

This endemic problem is global in its reach, though some countries and regions are affected more severely than others. For instance, in Asia-Pacific, a worrying three-quarters of survey participants had been victims of financial crime, with data suggesting the highest risk country in Asia is India, where 89% encountered such an incident. These incidents of cybercrime rose above the 72% level registered globally.

The onboarding process - whether it be customers or suppliers - was seen as the major weak link, a process where customers would be exposed to the most cases of fraud and external hacks.

“With three-quarters of companies across Asia-Pacific affected by financial crime in the past year, more investment must be made in technology and processes. Advancements in AL, ML and cloud computing are increasing companies’ abilities to analyze data in real-time, streamline processes such as Know Your Customer (KYC) and to uncover previously undetectable activity,” says Alfred Lee, managing director, Asia-Pacific at Refinitiv.

He warns, “At the same time, with companies only conducting due diligence on around half of external partners and customers, despite these entities accounting for the majority of financial crime cases, this is enabling an environment for criminal activity to flourish.”

An overwhelming number of respondents (97% globally) view technology tools as the answer to the company’s due diligence and overall onboarding process, whether it is using cloud-based data and AI/machine learning tools.

However, while there is an undoubted drive to use technology, the funding necessary to support such endeavours is lacking. For instance, one EY report recently discovered that 87% of surveyed organizations globally believed that they don’t have sufficient budget to provide the desired levels of cybersecurity and resilience. One bright side has been the cybersecurity efforts of Greater China organizations, with the EY report stating that data protection, cybersecurity and cyber sovereignty was already a core part of their management strategy compared to their global counterparts.

“Given the rising connectivity and importance of China to the global market, Chinese companies with plans to expand their businesses should revisit their cybersecurity strategies to comply with privacy requirements across Asia-Pacific borders and beyond,” says Richard Watson, Asia-Pacific cybersecurity risk advisory leader at EY.

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