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Finance professionals must be aware of cyber risks, not just IT departments


04 Jun 2019


Not a day goes by without a breaking news story about data breaches or personal data theft from large organisations. Cyber crime is one of the biggest risks to businesses to date and globally its estimated costs will reach $6trillion by 2021.
ACCA (Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) has teamed up with Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand, Macquarie University and Optus to launch the report Cyber and the CFO. The global survey, which features views from 1500 ACCA and CA ANZ members, finds cyber security is not managed as a risk to businesses and is too often left to IT specialists to handle.
Highlights from the report show:
  • Almost 60 percent of CFOs and finance leaders rank cyber security as the most important or top five business risk
  • However, a third of respondents did not know whether their organisations had been the subject of a cyber attack. Few survey responses showed a recovery plan that included much beyond the hardware.
  • Over 20 percent of finance professionals admitted they had no involvement whatsoever in cyber security within their company.
  • And 10 percent of respondents did not know who in the business was responsible day-to-day for cyber security.
  • Larger businesses placed a higher priority on cyber risks (8 percent), but small businesses were marginally (5 percent) less concerned or aware of such security risks.
Cyber-risk is becoming ever more complex with the integrated nature of supply chains.  Only 19% of survey respondents said they regularly audited their supply chains.
ACCA’s head of business management, Clive Webb, says:
‘The increasing use of technology within businesses to create commercial advantage comes at a price and that price is cyber risk.
‘The finance community cannot stand by and leave cyber security to others in the business to manage. It is very complex, but it is essential for finance leaders to familiarise themselves with the issue.
‘The report highlights the changing nature of the cyber threat. It establishes the financial and operational risks that arise and in that regard the finance community needs to keep abreast of the evolving nature of the threat and ensure it is managed appropriately.’
Geraldine Magarey, head of CA ANZ’s thought leadership says: ‘Finance leaders need to recognise that cyber risk is one that is very relevant to them’.
Stuart Mort, Optus Business CTO Cyber & ICT Customer Solutions, says:
‘As enterprises are more reliant than ever on digital solutions for their business, any breach could result in a significant impact to not only reputation, but also brand value and ultimately the company’s value.
‘Boards and the c-suite must take ownership of cyber risks and address appropriately.’
Executive director of the Optus Macquarie University Cyber Security Hub, associate professor Christophe Doche, says:
‘New cyber threats and technical vulnerabilities are emerging at a very fast rate; however targeting employees is still a very effective way for cyber criminals to attack an organisation.
‘Given the rapidly evolving and pervasive nature of cyber threats, an important component of managing cyber risk is to prepare for what seems inevitable. Indeed, organisations should make sure that a well developed and tested incident response plan is in place to build cyber resilience and ensure business continuity in case of a cyber breach.’ 
To hear more from Clive Webb about this report, please do sign up to ACCA’s event at Cranfield Eagle Lab in Bedfordshire on June 13 called Cybersecurity and the CFO. Full details are provided on the website.
About ACCA
ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) is the global body for professional accountants, offering business-relevant, first-choice qualifications to people of application, ability and ambition around the world who seek a rewarding career in accountancy, finance and management.
ACCA supports its 208,000 members and 503,000 students in 179 countries, helping them to develop successful careers in accounting and business, with the skills required by employers. ACCA works through a network of 104 offices and centres and more than 7,300 Approved Employers worldwide, who provide high standards of employee learning and development. Through its public interest remit, ACCA promotes appropriate regulation of accounting and conducts relevant research to ensure accountancy continues to grow in reputation and influence.
ACCA has introduced major innovations to its flagship qualification to ensure its members and future members continue to be the most valued, up to date and sought-after accountancy professionals globally.
Founded in 1904, ACCA has consistently held unique core values: opportunity, diversity, innovation, integrity and accountability. More information is here: