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THE FINANCE SECTOR CAN WORK REMOTELY AND SECURELY…AND HERE’S THE PROOF

Kieran O’Connor, UK Enterprise Lead from Jamf

 

For the financial industry, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to mitigate cyber risk purely because it’s systemic and warrants a global effort. Yet, the industry has been tasked with gaining a granular view to keep customers safe, remain compliant, and streamline the various security protocols in place – all while working with organisations that have various levels of cybersecurity maturity. It’s difficult for any one firm to understand how an attacker might move across their supply chain.

If that wasn’t all, as the pace of digital disruption accelerates and innovative new technologies reach the market, those in the sector are having to digitise their offerings and adapt to remain competitive. This involves equipping their staff with the latest technology for success.

The growing popularity of consumer-favoured devices in enterprise, such as Apple Macs, iPads and iPhones, has supported collaboration and innovation but it has also meant that financial services now require skilled expertise in device and app management to ensure those fragmented regulations can continued to be followed, wherever the employee may be.

 

The most desired target

According to the Boston Consulting Group, financial service firms experience up to 300 times as many cyberattacks per year, globally, compared to companies in other industries. As one of the main contributors to the UK economy, it’s no surprise that it’s the most attractive sector for cybercriminals looking for financial gain or malicious intent.

The recent pandemic, instigated a shift in the way financial organisations needed to move to a remote working strategy – further exposing them to both generic and targeted attacks. In fact, it’s been reported that UK businesses have seen remote working increase by up to 80% and of those surveyed, almost a third (32%) said they had suffered a cyberattack in the past 12 months as a direct result of an employee working remotely and being outside of the organisation’s security perimeter.

In order for financial organisation to progress and keep up with customer demand, there needs to be stronger solutions that balance security with productivity – how else can companies protect their business and customers, grow and remain innovative, all while working remotely?

 

Skip the tradition

Consumers are demanding convenience through digital services and remaining innovative with the ability to adapt quickly, using smart devices, has come to the forefront.

One such firm that understood how to leverage consumer devices for innovation, while remaining compliant is Curve – a payment card provider that aggregates multiple payment cards through its accompanying mobile app.

Having tripled in size in under a year – going from 90 to 280 employees – the company needed to on-board staff quickly and securely. Knowing that this could often be where security protocols could become lax, they enlisted the support of an Apple-specific, enterprise mobile device management provider.

Tasks such as managing the roll out of devices, software, patch updates and even regular password resets – all of which provide opportunities for cyber criminals to access data through the back door – had become a concern since the recruitment process was moving so quickly.

The company needed to keep stringent security protocols in place to protect confidential customer data and financial information or risk breaking regulations such as GDPR or PCI DSS, which could lead to heavy fines and court cases.

By seeking the support of a third-party solution provider that specialised in Apple mobile device and app management, Curve could achieve zero day deployment and OS updates across every device so no one was left with old software that could potentially cause a threat to security Advanced inventory functions such as Smart Groups, quickly identified unused or missing devices which would need renewing.

While Apple products are similar to use by nature, employees were empowered set up their devices and reset passwords – helping them to become more educated on how cyber threats can take place while fixing common issues. This enabled Curve’s IT team to deploy compliance and patch updates via a single dashboard to ensure everyone stayed secure.

This resulted in Curve being able to continue its growth journey without damaging the employee experience or putting security on the line. The company made adaptations to their current technology capabilities for both employees and customers, which made the journey much smoother. They can now focus on other company targets like re-launching their self-service portal with automated patch roll outs which will also improve the user experience tremendously.

The financial industry may have been reluctant to work remotely, but since the pandemic acted as a catalysts to remove company walls, many have realised it can be possible and beneficial.  Selecting device and app management support that understands the plethora of red tape they need to abide by, as well as the devices employees use most, will provide the risk management assurance they need to succeed.

 

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Business

THE EFFECTS AUTONOMOUS DRIVING WILL HAVE ON THE TRANSPORTATION AND LOGISTICS INDUSTRY

Stefan Spendrup, Vice President of Sales Northern and Western Europe at SOTI 

 

‘Big thinking’ articles on how to disrupt industries from retail to healthcare have been so prolific in recent years that you would be remiss in assuming we have moved forward from the digital transformation era. Rather, it is important to think of these transformations as the natural extension of a technologically driven world, in which companies are constantly adapting to meet ever-evolving market demands and customer needs. As the pace of development in technological capabilities has increased, so too has companies’ access to technology. With this comes an expectation that companies remain current with the latest advancements.

 

Following the mobile-first era, the next stage in the evolution of digital disruption is the move toward robotics through the Internet of Things (IoT) and Artificial Intelligence (AI.) Once companies have integrated a comprehensive mobility strategy within their operations, we find them increasingly turning to “what’s next”; solutions that will give them an even greater advantage against competitors and help them stay ahead of the field. Machine learning is poised to meet that market demand.

 

The transportation and logistics (T&L) industry is at the forefront of this trend. An industry that may seem at first to be traditional and unchanged by technology over the past half century, has been among the earliest adopters of disruptive technology.

 

Autonomous trucking is the next frontier for the transportation industry. As larger enterprises move away from traditional practices, smaller organisations can follow and benefit from the mainstream acceptance of autonomous technology. This can be seen in areas such as:

  • Monitoring, information sharing and exchange across remote devices
  • Management of mobile devices, remotely, which can eventually be applied to powering and controlling autonomous devices
  • Remote support
  • Performance data and analysis

 

The numbers make the case. In the UK, 1.44 billion tonnes of goods were shipped via heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) in 2019, which is an increase of 2% when compared to the year before. Global e-commerce sales are set to reach $5 trillion (£3.8 trillion) by 2021, driven largely by lowered consumer costs for online shopping and the ease of ordering online for everything from fruit to furniture. This trend is not likely to decline, especially as many are looking to limit in-store interactions in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. It will be difficult for transportation and logistics companies to ignore the financial benefits of automation alone.

 

Evidential benefits of automation within the supply chain and operational practices already exist. This can be explicitly seen in Amazon’s famous robot warehouses. These IoT-enabled robotic devices can sift through packages faster than humans can. They can work anywhere and under pretty much any condition, which is why they have been employed within the supply chain to speed up delivery and enhance the end-customer experience. The Amazon example indicates that as technology advances, adoption is likely to surge.

 

When turning our focus onto delivery services, we are seeing incredible interest in autonomous trucking, which has the potential to deliver faster, more predictable and more reliable service. These benefits do not negate the valuable role humans will need to play in overseeing quality control, providing support and conducting data analytics functions to aid in further innovation.

 

Prior to implementing full-scale autonomous trucking, shippers will need to ensure that the management and assessment of a connected fleet meets jurisdictional and federal legislation in addition to minimising cybersecurity risks. High levels of connectivity often translate into greater security risks, and companies will need to prioritise security to ensure systems are built with cyber resilience capabilities and can respond quickly in the event of a cyber breach.

 

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Business

ACCOUNTANTS HAVE BECOME CRITICAL TO THE SURVIVAL OF BUSINESSES AND THEIR REPUTATIONS DURING COVID-19

Stuart Cobbe, Director of Growth, Europe, MindBridge

 

The opportunity for fraudulent activity to flourish as finance departments operate remotely with less oversight in these extraordinary Covid-19 times is inevitable. Government loans and financial support have been given out with little or no accountability to businesses that are struggling with the change in their trading environment and as a consequence businesses find themselves in financial need.

There is already evidence of corporations handing back furlough grants as HMRC offers a 90-day amnesty, but without rapid data-driven insight and risk stratification, businesses may not know the extent of their exposure. Indeed many businesses face the daunting prospect of repaying loans at the same time as paying deferred VAT early next year in a far from certain trading environment. Stuart Cobbe, Director of Growth, Europe, MindBridge explains that the role of the accountant has now become critical to businesses and their reputations.

 

Unlocking transparency

The Covid-19 landscape is fluid and ever-changing, and businesses require accurate visibility of all aspects of their business in order to plan effectively for the future and to understand their financial position. As the economy continues to recover to a new ‘normal’, companies need to focus on the next 6 months. How many ‘zombie’ businesses are only operating due to deferred VAT payments? How many companies will fail when they cannot repay loans? The role of the accountant is vital in unlocking this transparency to provide data-driven, actionable insights.

After all, there are many questions around how government financing has been used, from grants to loans, furlough payments to VAT deferments. As of the 20th September, the total cost of furlough claims has reached a staggering almost £40 billion, despite 30,000 applications being rejected, with many likely to have been attempts to defraud the taxpayer. Research by economists from Cambridge, Oxford and Zurich universities found that as many as two thirds of furloughed workers continued to work.

For businesses that do not understand the extent of their exposure, they risk facing a HMRC-imposed tax charge equivalent of up to 100% of the grant to which any recipient was not entitled and was not repaid. It is, therefore, interesting to see the number of large organisations now publicly revealing plans to repay all furlough payments. For many, this is an opportunity to boost corporate reputation and demonstrate a commitment to rediscovering business as usual. However, given the huge pressures businesses have been under in recent months, many CFOs and FDs may not have the full visibility they require to effectively manage this without the power of audit.

 

Financial Risks

This is about far more than reputational damage, the potential misuse of furlough is far from the only financial risk. The extraordinary shift in every business’ modus operandi over the past few months has opened the door for opportunistic fraud. New sources of income; staff working from home with limited oversight; the financial pressures – both business and personal – created by the recession. The misappropriation of assets should be a very real concern for businesses of every size.

For organisations that have relied upon grants and loans to survive, an employee exploiting the lack of oversight to syphon funds for personal use could tip the company into failure. Companies must determine how – or whether – deferred VAT payments and loan repayments can be made. Is the company truly solvent or no more than a ‘zombie’ business operating with a balance sheet propped up by short term government finance?

 

Actionable data

Business resilience and reputation is a priority in this era, and CFOs or FDs may be struggling to establish trust across businesses now operating under a whole new range of pressures, from slimmer margins to a disjointed, remote workforce. There is an obvious need for complete visualisation of financial risks, and accountants play a crucial role in unlocking this data.

The rapid identification of mistakes in government support applications, potential fraud and the analysis of which deferred payments and loan repayments can be made and when – whilst ensuring other risk factors do not jeopardise business stability – is essential to futureproof the business, and accountants can assess data to provide this information in a complete and actionable format to lead smarter company decisions. This is the data insight CFOs and FDs need today.

Traditional financial risk assessment models will not be adequate. At best, problems will be revealed months after the fact. Companies need rapid identification of areas of unexpected activity today. This is where accountants and finance departments using sophisticated machine learning and artificial intelligence techniques can deliver real business value by rapidly assessing financial data and surfacing unexpected activity. Armed with this information, finance teams will know where to focus activities, the questions to ask and the remedial action to take. This information will drive departments and remedial action to ensure business success and growth as the nation gets back to its feet.

In short, accountants and finance professionals can provide the answers businesses need today, whilst helping managers to plan for the future effectively, despite the changes in policies and protocols as the pandemic continues to throw curveballs. An audit can quickly identify problems including but not limited to, cash flow, fraud, misuse of grants, loan repayment issues – all whilst offering the guidance and steps to safeguard the business to promote resilience and protect the solvency and reputation.

 

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