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Finance Professionals in the Middle East Must be Aware of Cyber Security Risks

Not a day goes by without a breaking news story about data breaches or personal data theft from large organisations. Cyber-crime is one of the biggest risks to businesses to date and globally its estimated costs will reach $6 Trillion by 2021.

ACCA (Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) has teamed up with Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand, Macquarie University and Optus to launch the report Cyber and the CFO. The global survey, which features views from almost 1600 ACCA and CA ANZ members, finds cybersecurity is not managed as a risk to businesses and is too often left to IT specialists to handle.

Highlights from the report show:

  • Fifty-three percent of CFOs and finance leaders rank cybersecurity as the most important or top five business risk
  • However, 16 percent of finance professionals in the Middle East say only 32 percent had a tested remediation plan in place should an attack take place.
  • A quarter of finance professionals admitted they had no involvement whatsoever in cybersecurity within their company.
  • And 10 percent of respondents did not know who in the business was responsible day-to-day for cybersecurity. And only 18 percent of those asked had cyber insurance.

Cyber-risk is becoming ever more complex with the integrated nature of supply chains. Only 19% of survey respondents said they regularly audited their supply chains. ACCA’s head of business management, Clive Webb, says, “The increasing use of technology within businesses to create commercial advantage comes at a price and that price is a cyber risk. The finance community cannot stand by and leave cybersecurity to others in the business to manage. It is very complex, but it is essential for finance leaders to familiarise themselves with the issue. The report highlights the changing nature of the cyber threat. It establishes the financial and operational risks that arise and in that regard, the finance community needs to keep abreast of the evolving nature of the threat and ensure it is managed appropriately.”

ACCA’s head of Middle East, Fazeela Gopalani, says, “The Middle East is quoted as being the most targeted region in the world for cybercriminals. With increased investment in technology and government initiatives that are driving a digital economy, access to virtual data continues to rise. In turn, this increases the risk and opportunity for cybercriminals. It is fundamental that finance professionals mitigate this risk at the onset to ensure they are supporting a digitally safeguarded economy which can deliver robust fiscal growth.”

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