At a glance
By Gavin Levinsohn, Chief Growth Officer, Eftsure
Data breaches and ransomware attacks continue to dominate news headlines. CFOs and other finance leaders are not directly responsible for implementing cyber security measures, but they are responsible for safeguarding their organisation’s financial assets.
Major data breaches can make this responsibility even harder to fulfil.
When millions of records are stolen in major attacks, the hackers want to make money from stolen data, whether from demanding ransoms or from selling it to other entities.
They also use the data to impersonate a trusted contact – usually via email – and persuade the target to redirect legitimate payments to fraudulent accounts.
In 2022, this type of scam, called a “payment redirection scam” or “business email compromise” attack, cost Australian businesses A$224 million, making it the third-largest source of financial losses, according to a 2022 Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) Scamwatch report.
Stolen data only enhances such tactics. With just a name and an address, fraudsters can piece together employment details, income brackets and other contextual information that helps them tailor messages with pinpoint precision.
Even data that seems harmless in isolation can help fraudsters get a better picture of their target. This increases their odds of deceiving employees and bypassing the controls their employers might have in place.
Cybercriminals increasingly leverage technology to scale their tactics across vast troves of data. With the widespread availability of generative artificial intelligence tools, the scale and sophistication of the scam messages is growing, making them harder to detect.
Microsoft executive Brad Smith once said, “Every company has at least one employee who will click on anything.” Even more worryingly, every company has at least one employee who will click anything at least once.
In other words, all it takes is one mistake, one time, to compromise the security of a business and increase the odds of financial losses.
In addition to the actions of its staff members, organisations are also vulnerable to the actions of their suppliers’ employees. A single errant click by an employee in an organisation along a supply chain can render every company along the chain vulnerable to cyberattacks and financial losses.
With the added pressures that come with the end of financial year period, CFOs and finance leaders should be extra vigilant. They can also take action to help safeguard their teams and the organisation.
One action is to take inspiration from penetration testing, a core cyber security practice, which simulates cyberattacks to identify vulnerabilities in a system.
Apply the same approach by pressure-testing financial controls, especially those that are vulnerable to human error or cutting corners.
Perhaps most importantly, it is important to empower staff to have greater awareness and scepticism. Fraudsters are constantly hunting for new ways to circumvent processes, so if an email does not seem quite right, it is always OK to speak up.