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CFOs are adopting cybersecurity skills as Covid urges digitalization 

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CFOs today play an important role in the day-to-day operations of a company. They are accountable for any loss of control over financial reporting, as well as the potential loss of funds.

By: Tricia Ang | 14 April 2021

Photo by @domenicoloia on Unsplash

As digitalisation gains traction, the CFO collaborates with IT experts to establish cybersecurity policies and guidelines that identify the areas in finance processes that are most vulnerable to attack.

While cybersecurity is considered an IT domain, the CFO’s position has become more prominent as the pandemic has pushed digitalisation and remote finance processes.

With the increase of work-from-home setups that are not as adequately or reliably secured as internal business networks, cybercriminals are exploiting Covid-related worries to launch themed phishing attacks.

CFOs must create security mechanisms tailored to the finance role rather than relying on the organization’s blanket security protocols to protect financial data.

CFOs focus on cybersecurity

The CFO is not only responsible for ensuring that the organization’s balance sheet and cash position are healthy to weather pandemics such as this one, but also for keeping a pulse on the entire company operation.

CFOs today play an important role in the day-to-day operations of a company, and they are accountable for any loss of control over financial statements as well as the possible loss of funds, whether by fraud or as a result of a third-party misfortune. The information that the CFO manages and deals with on a daily basis are some of the most sensitive and crucial in the organization.

As Covid embraces digitalization, CFOs are cultivating cybersecurity skills.

The role of the CFO

Due to the vulnerability of finance to malicious attacks, CFOs must become involved in cybersecurity and be acquainted with IT security concerns, ideally within the framework of various legal systems.

CFOs must ensure that their organisations are thoroughly prepared to deal with these emerging challenges by equipping themselves to deal with reputational attacks.  The quicker an organization reacts to attacks on its credibility, the better the outcome.

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Through taking proactive action in advance of targeted attacks, a meticulous CFO can save the company the embarrassment and financial impact of a major breach. Companies should devote time and resources to developing a data breach response plan. They must also practice different scenarios in advance of an event.

“A solid understanding of data management is key. If today’s CFO wants to fulfil his or her role, they will need to filter critical and confidential data and make the company’s protection a priority.”

As the number of data breaches rises, CFOs must be proactive and continuously collaborate with IT experts.  The continued exposure means  it is becoming increasingly important for a CFO to be tech-savvy.

The greatest threat is not the IT system itself, but how employees use it. Regardless of how many firewalls or passwords are in place, any misbehavior by a member of the organization will endanger everything.

Every CFO’s focus is rapidly on training employees on the risks associated with cyberattacks and putting in place preventive measures.

The CFO must always be aware of where information is stored, how it is protected, and who may try to steal it, and how they might gain access to it. Most notably, the CFO has a responsibility to provide the board with plain, real, and full disclosure on a wide range of issues, which many would argue may include the potential financial impact of a cyberattack.

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