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CYBER IN THE FINANCE INDUSTRY: HOW CAN IT DO BETTER?

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Jonathan Clarke, Content Marketing Manager at BeyondTrust

 

Given how lucrative and vital finance companies are to the UK economy, it’s no surprise that cyber criminals are trying their luck at infiltrating these organisations, stealing sensitive information, and causing havoc. In fact, the Financial Conduct Authority has revealed that the number of declared cyber-incidents in the UK finance sector has risen by more than 1000% since last year.

The evidence is rife too – earlier this year, Metro Bank became another victim that was added to the list of cyber-attacks, after hackers were able to intercept a telecommunications vulnerability, affecting on a few customers however. Not as lucky was Tesco Bank, which was subjected to a £16.4 million fine when a staggering £2.26 million was stolen from customers’ personal current accounts.

Despite such high-profile attacks being reported within the financial sector, businesses are still failing to implement robust cybersecurity policies. And, amid today’s advanced threat landscape, it is usually a case of ‘when’ and not ‘if’ a firm is breached. Many financial firms are still just trying to get the basics right, have old IT systems in place and do not carry out regular cyber-assessments.

 

Jonathan Clarke

What’s the problem?

It’s evident the industry needs to boost and improve its defence against malicious attackers, but first, it’s important to pinpoint where the issues are coming from. From the BeyondTrust 2019 Privileged Access Threat Report, 58% of organisations believe it is likely they have suffered a breach due to vendor access, and 64% say employees were a cause of the breaches – of which financial organisations are included. Indeed, most organisations in and out of the financial industry are having a difficult time managing privileged insiders and third-party vendors, in fact, almost half still use manual processes to control privileged identities, which simply isn’t scalable.

 

What’s the solution?

In light of these findings, employee error needs to be minimised, and should it happen, the ramifications need to be promptly dealt with effectively.

The weakest link in an organisation, often starts with employees. Usually ranging from their poor password hygiene, to being targeted by phishing emails.  And, unfortunately, by giving employees administrator rights, this puts systems and data in the firing line for hackers. So, it’s paramount to tackle this issue at its root.

Indeed, productivity issues arise when limiting user rights – IT help desks can often be inundated with requests to grant access to basic systems or files. As such, the balance between security and productivity, specifically within a fast-paced, high growth environment like the finance sector, always seems to be a trade-off.

So, how can this be remedied? By removing unnecessary admin rights and giving users just enough access to do their jobs productively, organisations can significantly reduce the attack surface. To achieve this, Privileged Access Management (PAM) can be implemented. Three features of an effective PAM solution include:

  1. Lock down and control credentials: Find, manage, and monitor privileged accounts/assets, and automate privileged password and session management.
  2. Remove excessive end-user privileges: Control and monitor privileged activity on Windows, Mac, Unix, Linux, and network devices, remove excessive privileges without impacting productivity, and enforce granular application control.
  3. Protect internal and vendor remote access: Secure, manage, and audit remote access from third-party vendors and internal employees with privileges, such as the service desk.

When organisations have fully integrated PAM tools, they are more confident to identify threats from employees with privileged access. With control and visibility over their entire environment, organisations can significantly reduce the likelihood that they become a victim of a breach, while allowing their employees to remain fulfilled and productive at work.

 

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Business

FOUR REASONS WHY FINANCE LEADERS ARE ADOPTING CLOUD-BASED ACCOUNTING

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Warwick Haycock, Accounting Software Specialist at The Access Group

 

As providers of leading financial management software, The Access Group recently conducted a survey of 1,000 finance professionals in UK businesses, including CFOs, finance directors and managers, to understand their pain points for the year ahead and what technology they are considering to resolve their challenges.

64 per cent of respondents have an expectation that their business will adopt new technologies this year, with 24 per cent suggesting cloud accounting software was likely to be the technology they invest in.

Warwick Haycock

Cloud-based accounting software is moving the financial data of your business from traditional on-premise systems to SaaS (Software as a Service) based accounting software. There is no requirements of software in-house as businesses can access and use it remotely via cloud applications.

Below are four reasons why cloud-based accounting software is at the forefront of their minds for almost one in four finance teams:

 

  1. Real-time, accurate data

The pandemic has taught us a few things, but especially how quick the world of business can change.

It’s crucial now more than ever, that any data and insights from the finance team are as up-to-date as possible, leaders will call upon their finance colleagues to pull together and present on business performance.

Gathering data from multiple and disparate systems are time consuming for any finance lead not to mention the risk of manual errors in the data.

Cloud-based solutions hold all your data in one place and offer a real-time view so that up-to-date reports can be compiled within minutes.

Accuracy is a key world in finance – taking the wrong data could result in the business taking the wrong strategy, overseeing the right decision.

 

  1. Quality control

Mistakes can be made in any department including the finance team, factors such as heavy workloads, inefficient processes and the introduction of remote working, its understandable errors happen.

With many of us now working in a hybrid model, we are working on shared documents in the cloud. Data can be reviewed and amended immediately as everyone has sight of the updates. In an effort to prevent errors, strengthen the approvals process and audit trail, a cloud-based platform standardises formats for submitting data.

 

  1. Easing workloads

Speaking of workloads, 24 per cent of survey respondents said that an ever-increasing workload would be a challenge over the year, unsurprisingly because the role of the finance team has changed dramatically in the last 12-months and the impact of furloughed staff, team redundancies and increased sick leave.

For Chief Finance Officers, Finance Directors or Finance Managers, if the to do list is never ending and it matched with outdated processes it only makes matters worse.

Automation is the key to streamlining workloads. Whether helping to ease the time it takes to collate invoices or prepare financial statements, cloud-based accounting software can remove the pain of time-consuming tasks.

 

  1. Collaboration

In the office, on the road or working from home, communication and collaboration is key for any team to succeed.

Possibly, the most important advantage of cloud-based accounting software is having access to the data anytime. It will make teams work faster and smarter to have the insights at their fingertips.

A centralised platform allows teams in all divisions to collaborate, even from home. Specifically, for finance teams, they will have access to a company-wide overview, enabling them to see where the business may be overspending or lacking in productivity, all on one centralised platform.

It’s important that finance teams have the technology available to be agile, to deliver insights at critical times when decisions need to be made and to balance both those business-critical tasks with day-to-day jobs that keep the finance department – and business ticking.

Cloud-based accounting software can have many more befits such as automated backup, no on-premise software costs, data security and integration to other systems. Finance and accounting software can accelerate day to day accounting operations and allows finance leads to focus on core tasks.

For more information on our survey results, read The Access Group report in full ‘Financial Healthcheck: Alleviating Your Pain Points in 2021’.

 

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Finance

AIRBANK SELECTS YAPILY TO BUILD A FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT SOLUTION FOR SMBS

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Airbank, a financial management solution for European startups and SMBs, has selected open banking infrastructure provider Yapily to help its users manage their finances with ease.

Airbank provides a simple financial management solution that aggregates all bank accounts in one place and delivers more control, visibility, and automation to modern finance teams. Startups & SMBs use Airbank to access bank accounts, monitor cash flow in real-time, create reliable forecasts, and make business payments.

Airbank matches bank transactions with merchant and category data to give finance teams complete visibility into revenues and expenses, thus helping make their lives easier with cash flow budgeting, forecasting, and reporting.

Yapily’s API infrastructure provides Airbank users with a smooth, simple way to connect to more than 1,500 banks across the UK and Europe including Deutsche Bank, Commerzbank, Sparkassen, Volksbanken and neobanks. Airbank selected Yapily for its strong coverage in Europe, with a specific focus on Germany, France, Spain, and the UK. Yapily’s European bank connectivity enables Airbank’s customers to scale and grow across Europe, delivering forecast visibility anywhere they go.

The partnership with Yapily alleviates Airbank’s customers from spending time and resources managing their finances – giving them direct access to all the financial and contextual data they need in one tool. Historically, most businesses created budgets and cash flow forecasts in manual spreadsheets which is time-consuming and error-prone. With Airbank, customers save time and costs to focus on value-adding business tasks.

The partnership also enables Airbank’s customers to use its data enrichment platform and transaction categorisation engine to turn the raw data from bank accounts into meaningful and actionable insights. Airbank reconciles account balances, forecasts financials and helps business owners make smarter business decisions every day. Harnessing Yapily’s leading open banking infrastructure, Airbank can accelerate its adoption of digital banking services.

Airbank’s vision is to simplify financial management for SMBs and to create a unified platform that helps its users with the full cycle of financial management from cash flow analysis and forecasting, to accounts receivables and payables management, and more. Airbank has raised $3m seed funding from leading VCs, and counts hundreds of users in Germany, Austria, France, Spain and the UK.

Open Banking has enabled smooth integrations with banks, which we utilize to offer richer banking and payments experiences for our users. We’re building a business banking solution that connects all your financial accounts in one place. Our partnership with Yapily gives users a smooth and simple way to connect to thousands of banks in Europe, unlocking real-time insights into their cash flow. We eliminate the pains of finance admin so business owners can focus on what’s really important — growing their business.

Christopher Zemina, Co-founder and CEO of Airbank

Airbank helps simplify the daily routine of banking and finance management for small and medium sized businesses. By leveraging Yapily’s open banking infrastructure, Airbank can provide actionable insights to businesses – at a time where it’s needed. As a small yet fast growing company, Yapily is committed to supporting the SMB community and we are excited to see how Airbank delivers the benefits of open banking to many businesses across Europe.

Comment by Chris Scheuermann, Commercial Lead DACH at Yapily

 

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