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4 Ways CFOs Can Reduce Information Security Risk

More CFOs are taking a proactive role in their organizations’ IT security. This not only protects their financial data but improves their overall efficiencies.

Data security isn’t just something that your IT team needs to address.

Since a breach can impact every area of an organization, keeping sensitive data secure is also a top concern for CFOs. For example, CFOs must manage financial fallout and oversee investor relations after a data leak. A recent study by Ponemon Institute revealed that a company’s stock prices drop by an average of 5 percent after a breach, while their revenue takes a $3.4 million hit.

In some cases, CFOs can also lose their jobs after an attack. In 2016, both the CEO and CFO of FACC Aerospace  were fired after a finance employee fell prey to a whaling scheme. Cyber criminals sent an email to the employee and pretended to be FACC’s CEO. They demanded that the employee wire approximately 50 million Euros to a foreign bank account for a phony acquisition. FACC ended up taking a loss of almost 42 million Euros - effectively erasing its profits for the entire year. 

A Risky Disconnect (And 4 Ways to Keep Financial Data Secure)

Despite these risks, many IT leaders don’t believe that other members of the C-suite are doing enough to safeguard their organizations’ data and finances. According to Forbes, 40 percent of IT professionals don’t think their executive team comprehends the full risk of a cyber attack. For example, IT leaders estimate that the cost of a successful breach is $19.2 million, while other executives put their estimate at just $11.6 million. This shows a disconnect of almost 40 percent.

Here are four ways CFOs can better align with IT and ensure their financial data is secure:

1. Get clear on your risks.

Collaborate with the CIO to gain an understanding of how your organization stores financial data. Which systems are you using? Who can access them? Do these systems have any security weaknesses?

Also, examine how you handle paper files. For example, do members of the financial team leave sensitive documents unattended on their desks? Are your filing cabinets locked at all times? Do you spread paper files across multiple locations, such as different offices or processing facilities?

You can also review your financial processes and identify any bottlenecks that may put you at risk. For example, do your AP or AR processes rely on a high volume of touchpoints? The more steps and people involved with a process, the higher your likelihood of errors and data leaks.

2. Increase your IT security budget.

According to Forrester, organizations that invest more in IT security experience 6.8 fewer breaches than others. They also save upwards of $5 million in breach costs.

Work with your CIO to decide how much to spend on data privacy, cyber security, and technology. Also keep investors, your board of directors, and other stakeholders informed of your IT security efforts. Investors will feel more comfortable partnering with you if they know that you take their data privacy seriously.   

3. Gain control over who accesses your data.

Digital rights management (DRM) technology allows you to create policies around who can and can’t access your data. It encrypts files so only authorized users can access them.

DRM also enforces your security policies across desktops, smartphones, and other devices. That way, employees can gain secure access to finance files and applications – no matter their device or location. This boosts employee productivity, as they don’t need to be at their desk to view financial data and collaborate with others.

4. Use finance automation technology.

Finance teams often rely on manual, paper-based processes. However, doing things by hand is slow, inefficient, and can compromise your security.

CFOs are investing in automation technology to streamline their processes and better protect their data. According to the 2018 CFO Sentiment Study, more than 50 percent of CFOs plan to increase their investment in finance automation technology this year. This is up from the 38 percent of CFOs who said they would “moderately” invest in these tools last year. 

With finance automation technology, you can store all your files in a central and secure system. It reduces your reliance on papers that can go missing and allows you to place security controls around your documents.

Keeping all your financial data in a single repository also makes it easier for employees to find information. In addition, it gives you on-demand visibility into your data, which helps you make informed decisions and maintain detailed audit trails. 

Increased Security Leads to Increased Efficiencies 

CFOs have the opportunity to take a proactive role in their organizations’ data security.

The first step is examining your existing processes for inefficiencies and security gaps. Then, you can work with the CIO to determine which technologies can minimize your risks while boosting your team’s productivity.

Discover how other CFOs and Canadian organizations are securing their financial data while improving their access to information. Visit https://services.ricoh.ca/cfoa.


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