Data protection  

How to secure your data and your business

  • Understand the current cybersecurity threat for financial advice firms
  • Describe the common forms of cyberattack
  • Identify how to keep your systems secure
How to secure your data and your business

Like weeding your garden or emptying your inbox, working on cyber security is a job that is never really finished.

Scammers have the time, resources and energy for malicious activity, which means the ‘good guys’ are always faced with something new.

The threat is real and increasing, but there are lots of things advice firms can do to keep their business and their clients’ data safe.

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Increasing threats

When developing your cyber security procedures, it is important to realise that it is not going to be a one-and-done event.

Security is very much a reactive function, so while you should be as proactive as possible in getting your house in order, you also need to remain flexible and ready to respond as situations change. 

As Covid-19 proved, unexpected incidents happen that can derail you.

By moving whole swathes of the workforce out of the office and into their own homes, the pandemic forced firms to quickly shift from just thinking about the security of their own systems, to needing to consider the external set-up of employees and clients too. 

With the switch to remote working, many business systems were suddenly being accessed through potentially vulnerable networks and cyber criminals spotted an opportunity to exploit this for their own gains.

According to the UN, cyber crime increased by 600 per cent in the first three months of the pandemic alone, with an attack every 39 seconds. 

Unfortunately, the risk of cyber attack has not dropped in line with our return to normality.

The UK’s National Crime Agency states that: “Cyber crime continues to rise in scale and complexity, affecting essential services, businesses and private individuals alike. Cyber crime costs the UK billions of pounds, causes untold damage, and threatens national security.”

The criminals are well-resourced, with the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre attributing recent major attacks to state-backed threat actors seeking the acquisition of personal data and intellectual property.

However, this does not mean that it is just a problem for large organisations.

Research by cloud security company Barracuda Networks found that small businesses are three times more likely to be targeted by cyber criminals than larger companies. 

Staying secure

Cyber security threats are one of the biggest risks we see advice firms facing.

And although the government is leading a strategy on cyber security, there is an increasing onus on businesses to manage their own cyber risks. 

Advice firms need to reconsider the importance of cyber security and acknowledge that we all have a part to play in dealing with threats.

Being prepared for such events also form part of the Financial Conduct Authority’s rules on operational resilience introduced earlier this year.