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Financial services to be targeted with cyber crime?

07/08/13

The UK has been abuzz with concern over cyber crime over recent months, with warnings from several different sources indicating that the country's businesses may not be taking the threat as seriously as it warrants.

Security expert Dr Sally Leivesley is the latest to add her voice to this chorus, telling ITV's Daybreak presenters that the UK's status as a financial services hub makes it particularly vulnerable to attack.

She argued that Britain has became "an open business sign" for opportunist hackers because of the potential profits to be made from damaging its wide-ranging network of banks, investment companies and other financial institutions.

A spokesman from the Home Office emphasised that the government is taking action to limit online criminal activity and warned that businesses must not become complacent about the threat posed by  this kind of disruption.

Home Affairs Committee Chair, MP Keith Vaz, said: "We need to establish a state of the art espionage response centre. At the moment the law enforcement response to e-criminals is fractured and half of it is not even being put into the new National Crime Agency."

What does this mean for financial services businesses? While one hopes the government's investment will be fruitful, it's obvious that companies should not rely on it as their sole bulwark against cyber crime.

Just 21 per cent of the FTSE 350 company secretaries questioned in a recent Financial Times/ICSA Boardroom Bellwether survey felt they had identified their key information assets and taken action to mitigate the risk these face - this will need to change in the future.

Although in the past cyber crime was an area largely confined to the small group of technical experts charged with setting up security systems, in the current climate it needs to become a boardroom issue, as well as one that is emphasised throughout an organisation.

Spreading knowledge of the risks throughout a company can help stop mistakes from happening and gaps from being left in safety procedures.

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