By Stuart Reed, VP of Cyber Security, Nominet
Have you ever wondered what the most stressful job in your organisation is? If you were to rank them, the chances are that the person responsible for protecting your organisation from data breaches and cyber attacks would be quite near the top. In most organisations, this is primarily the role of the Chief Information Security Officer (CISO), who heads up the cyber security team. What’s more, while it’s true that everyone at the senior leadership level may be feeling stress and working long hours, it’s the nature of the fire CISOs are fighting which arguably makes their stress unique.
Over the last two years, we have conducted research into the working life of the CISO in order to better understand the role, its pain points, and how the stress they are under could be relieved. This year’s report, Life Insider the Perimeter: One Year On, found that the vast majority (88 percent) of CISOs remain moderately or tremendously stressed and that it is taking a greater toll on CISOs’ mental and physical health, and their personal relationships.
However, the research suggests that CISOs working in the financial services sector are, on average, suffering slightly less from stress. So what are financial services organisations doing right that other industries can learn from?
CISOs in finance have higher welfare
Responding to the survey, fewer CISOs in finance reported being tremendously stressed than any other industry (just 14 percent). The stress they are under is also less likely to impact their mental health and has fewer adverse effects on their personal life. For example, CISOs working in financial services companies are less likely to be abusing alcohol and reported that stress had taken less of a toll on their marriages or romantic relationships.
The better welfare of CISOs in finance is especially stark if you contrast it to an industry with a comparable amount of sensitive data – the legal industry. By comparison, 67 percent of CISOs at legal firms reported being tremendously stressed. A shocking 53 percent reported that stress had impacted their mental health and, for 60 percent, their physical health (compared to only 41 and 35 percent in finance). This is having a real impact on the lives of CISOs working in the legal industry. The vast majority (60 percent) reported that work-related stress had impacted their marriages or romantic relationships – way above the overall average of 32 percent and financial services on just 24 percent. Moreover, 27 percent reported using medication or alcohol to deal with their stress vs just 14 percent in financial services.
Therefore, it is clear that there is something different about the CISO role at financial services companies that means that they have a higher welfare than the legal industry and almost all other sectors.
Why are CISOs in finance less stressed?
One potential reason that the CISO role in finance organisations is less stressful can be immediately ruled out: it is not because their job is easier. CISOs in financial services are tasked with safeguarding some of the most sensitive data there is and are constantly battling against threats. In fact, 60 percent of CISOs admitted that their organisation has been affected by a security incident in the last year, and 33 percent said that it had happened more than once. Hardly a stress-free environment. Yet, in spite of this, CISOs are faring better than average when it comes to mental health.
The secret may lie in a better relationship between security teams and the board in finance organisations. While there were security incidents, 80 percent of CISOs believe that the board understands that breaches are inevitable – almost the highest level of understanding in any industry. When asked how they thought the board would respond if a security incident happened, 61 percent said the board would be understanding and assist in resolving the incident. Again, this is the highest of any other industry and probably demonstrates that the greater awareness of security risk among financial services institutions has resulted in a more collaborative and effective relationship between CISOs and the board.
This understanding seems to have also translated into a comparatively better work environment for CISOs – which may be contributing to them handling work stress better. For example, when asked about their work-life balance, only 12 percent said it was “far too heavily work focused” – almost half of the average (21 percent) and a fraction of the response in the legal industry (60 percent).
Perhaps even more importantly, 53 percent of CISOs in finance said that their organisation has support structures in place to help them cope with stress and that they were actively reminded of them, compared to 38 percent on average and just 30 percent in the legal industry. This proactive approach to encouraging good mental health stands out as one of the strengths of the financial services industry.
More needs to be done
However, that is not to say that there is not work to be done in helping CISOs in financial services. While it is below the average, 83 percent of CISOs in finance report being either “moderately” or “tremendously” stressed and 41 percent say this has had an impact on their mental health. These numbers are still far too high.
Moreover, while fewer finance CISOs thought their work life balance was “far” too focused on work, only 24 percent thought it was “balanced”. CISOs in financial services actually work slightly more overtime than average – 11 hours a week. Again, this has a real impact on people’s personal lives – 35 percent have missed a family milestone and 33 percent aren’t taking the annual leave they are entitled to. As always, money is perhaps the best indicator of how people feel. On average, CISOs said they would sacrifice £7,559.64 of their yearly salary for a better work-life balance.
All of this means that CISOs in finance are not immune to a trend we saw throughout this report – burnout. On average, CISOs in financial services only stay in their jobs for just over two years (27 months) – a very short tenure.
Financial services is definitely ahead in supporting the CISO role but clearly more has to be done. Most importantly, the board should build on its relationship with the CISO to remove the sole burden of responsibility the CISO feels for securing the business. More than any other industry, including legal, CISOs in finance believe that they hold this ultimate responsibility for a security incident, and that this is the most stress inducing part of their job. It’s no wonder they are feeling the pressure, when you consider that 20 percent of CISOs believe their contract would be terminated in the event of a security incident.
The role of the CISO can only be improved by a better working relationship with the board, and so it’s important that the C-Suite recognise that improving the CISO’s working life can only have positive outcomes for the business. With a strong and empowered CISO at the head of their security team, organisations will face less risk, be better protected, be more able to deal with a security breach when it hits, and ultimately become safer from cyber crime.
ISO 20022 migration: full speed ahead despite recent delays, says new Deutsche Bank paper
Today, Deutsche Bank has released the third installment in its “Guide to ISO 20022 migration” series, which offers a comprehensive update on the industry shift to the de facto global standard for financial messaging: ISO 20022. This paper comes at a critical time for the ISO 20022 migration, with a number of changes to existing timelines and strategies from SWIFT and the world’s major market infrastructures having been announced this year.
The paper explores the latest developments, including SWIFT’s year-long postponement of the migration in the correspondent banking space. The decision meets industry calls for a delay and also provides ample time to build the new central Transaction Management Platform (TMP) – a core feature of SWIFT’s new strategy that will allow the industry to move away from point-to-point messaging and towards central transaction processing.
It also details the wave of action that has been seen by market infrastructures around the world – with many, including the ECB, EBA CLEARING and the Bank of England, announcing revised migration approaches.
“Now more than ever, with shifting timelines and strained resources, it is vital that banks and corporates alike do not view the ISO 20022 migration as just another project that can be put on the back burner,” says Christian Westerhaus, Head of Cash Products, Cash Management, Deutsche Bank. “The delays in the correspondent banking space, and across several market infrastructures, should not be seen as an opportunity for banks to take their foot off the pedal. The journey to ISO 20022 is still moving ahead at speed – and internal projects need to reflect this.”
The Guide also highlights the implementation issues on the migration journey ahead – most notably surrounding interoperability between market infrastructures, usage guidelines and messaging formats. This is achieved through a series of deep dives, case studies, and points of attention drawn from Deutsche Bank’s internal analysis.
“As this year has proved, nothing is set in stone, “says Paula Roels, Head of Market Infrastructure & Industry Initiatives, Deutsche Bank. “The ISO 20022 migration involves a lot of moving parts and keeping abreast of the latest developments is critical for banks and corporates alike. As the deadlines near, and the ISO 20022 story develops, this series of guides will continue to highlight key points for consideration over the coming years.”
The Psychology Behind a Strong Security Culture in the Financial Sector
By Javvad Malik, Security Awareness Advocate at KnowBe4
Banks and financial industries are quite literally where the money is, positioning them as prominent targets for cybercriminals worldwide. Unfortunately, regardless of investments made in the latest technologies, the Achilles heel of these institutions is their employees. Often times, a human blunder is found to be a contributing factor of a security breach, if not the direct source. Indeed, in the 2020 Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report, miscellaneous errors were found vying closely with web application attacks for the top cause of breaches affecting the financial and insurance sector. A secretary may forward an email to the wrong recipient or a system administrator may misconfigure firewall settings. Perhaps, a user clicks on a malicious link. Whatever the case, the outcome is equally dire.
Having grown acutely aware of the role that people play in cybersecurity, business leaders are scrambling to establish a strong security culture within their own organisations. In fact, for many leaders across the globe, realising a strong security culture is of increasing importance, not solely for fear of a breach, but as fundamental to the overall success of their organisations – be it to create customer trust or enhance brand value. Yet, the term lacks a universal definition, and its interpretation varies depending on the individual. In one survey of 1,161 IT decision makers, 758 unique definitions were offered, falling into five distinct categories. While all important, these categories taken apart only feature one aspect of the wider notion of security culture.
With an incomplete understanding of the term, many organisations find themselves inadvertently overconfident in their actual capabilities to fend off cyberthreats. This speaks to the importance of building a single, clear and common definition from which organisations can learn from one another, benchmark their standing and construct a comprehensive security programme.
Defining Security Culture: The Seven Dimensions
In an effort to measure security culture through an objective, scientific method, the term can be broken down into seven key dimensions:
- Attitudes: Formed over time and through experiences, attitudes are learned opinions reflecting the preferences an individual has in favour or against security protocols and issues.
- Behaviours: The physical actions and decisions that employees make which impact the security of an organisation.
- Cognition: The understanding, knowledge and awareness of security threats and issues.
- Communication: Channels adopted to share relevant security-related information in a timely manner, while encouraging and supporting employees as they tackle security issues.
- Compliance: Written security policies and the extent that employees adhere to them.
- Norms: Unwritten rules of conduct in an organisation.
- Responsibilities: The extent to which employees recognise their role in sustaining or endangering their company’s security.
All of these dimensions are inextricably interlinked; should one falter so too would the others.
The Bearing of Banks and Financial Institutions
Collecting data from over 120,000 employees in 1,107 organisations across 24 countries, KnowBe4’s ‘Security Culture Report 2020’ found that the banking and financial sectors were among the best performers on the security culture front, with a score of 76 out of a 100. This comes as no surprise seeing as they manage highly confidential data and have thus adopted a long tradition of risk management as well as extensive regulatory oversight.
Indeed, the security culture posture is reflected in the sector’s well-oiled communication channels. As cyberthreats constantly and rapidly evolve, it is crucial that effective communication processes are implemented. This allows employees to receive accurate and relevant information with ease; having an impact on the organisation’s ability to prevent as well as respond to a security breach. In IBM’s 2020 Cost of a Data Breach study, the average reported response time to detect a data breach is 207 days with an additional 73 days to resolve the situation. This is in comparison to the financial industry’s 177 and 56 days.
Moreover, with better communication follows better attitude – both banking and financial services scored 80 and 79 in this department, respectively. Good communication is integral to facilitating collaboration between departments and offering a reminder that security is not achieved solely within the IT department; rather, it is a team effort. It is also a means of boosting morale and inspiring greater employee engagement. As earlier mentioned, attitudes are evaluations, or learned opinions. Therefore, by keeping employees informed as well as motivated, they are more likely to view security best practices favourably, adopting them voluntarily.
Predictably, the industry ticks the box on compliance as well. The hefty fines issued by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) in the past year alone, including Capital One’s $80 million penalty, probably play a part in keeping financial institutions on their toes.
Nevertheless, there continues to be room for improvement. As it stands, the overall score of 76 is within the ‘moderate’ classification, falling a long way short of the desired 90-100 range. So, what needs fixing?
Towards Achieving Excellence
There is often the misconception that banks and financial institutions are well-versed in security-related information due to their extensive exposure to the cyber domain. However, as the cognition score demonstrates, this is not the case – dawdling in the low 70s. This illustrates an urgent need for improved security awareness programmes within the sector. More importantly, employees should be trained to understand how this knowledge is applied. This can be achieved through practical exercises such as simulated phishing, for example. In addition, training should be tailored to the learning styles as well as the needs of each individual. In other words, a bank clerk would need a completely different curriculum to IT staff working on the backend of servers.
By building on cognition, financial institutions can instigate a sense of responsibility among employees as they begin to recognise the impact that their behaviour might have on the company. In cybersecurity, success is achieved when breaches are avoided. In a way, this negative result removes the incentive that typically keeps employees engaged with an outcome. Training methods need to take this into consideration.
Then there are norms and behaviours, found to have strong correlations with one another. Norms are the compass from which individuals refer to when making decisions and negotiating everyday activities. The key is recognising that norms have two facets, one social and the other personal. The former is informed by social interactions, while the latter is grounded in the individual’s values. For instance, an accountant may connect to the VPN when working outside of the office to avoid disciplinary measures, as opposed to believing it is the right thing to do. Organisations should aim to internalise norms to generate consistent adherence to best practices irrespective of any immediate external pressures. When these norms improve, behavioural changes will reform in tandem.
Building a robust security culture is no easy task. However, the unrelenting efforts of cybercriminals to infiltrate our systems obliges us to press on. While financial institutions are leading the way for other industries, much still needs to be done. Fortunately, every step counts -every improvement made in one dimension has a domino effect in others.
Has lockdown marked the end of cash as we know it?
By James Booth, VP of Payment Partnerships EMEA, PPRO
Since the start of the pandemic, businesses around the world have drastically changed their operations to protect employees and customers. One significant shift has been the discouragement of the use of cash in favour of digital and contactless payment methods. On the surface, moving away from cash seems like the safe, obvious thing to do to curb the spread of the virus. But, the idea of being propelled towards an innovative, digital-first, cashless society is also compelling.
Has cashless gone viral?
Recent months have forced the world online, leading to a surge in e-commerce with UK online sales seeing a rise of 168% in May and steady growth ever since. In fact, PPRO’s transaction engine, has seen online purchases across the globe increase dramatically in 2020: purchases of women’s clothing are up 311%, food and beverage by 285%, and healthcare and cosmetics by 160%.
Alongside a shift to online shopping, a recent report revealed 7.4 million in the UK are now living an almost cashless life – claiming changing payment habits has left Britons better prepared for life in lockdown. In fact, according to recent research from PPRO, 45% of UK consumers think cash will be a thing of the past in just five years. And this UK figure reflects a global trend. For example, 46% of Americans have turned to cashless payments in the wake of COVID-19. And in Italy, the volume of cashless transactions has skyrocketed by more than 80%.
More choice than ever before
Whilst the pandemic and restrictions surrounding cash have certainly accelerated the UK towards a cashless society, the proliferation of local payment methods (LPMs) in the UK, such as PayPal, Klarna and digital wallets, have also been a key driver. Today, 31% of UK consumers report they are confident using mobile wallets, such as Apple Pay. Those in Generation Z are particularly keen, with 68% expressing confidence using them.
As LPM usage continues to accelerate, the use of credit and debit cards are likely to decline in the coming years. Whilst older generations show an affinity with plastic, younger consumers feel less secure around its usage. 96% of Baby Boomers and Generation X confirmed they feel confident using credit/debit cards, compared to just 75% of Generation Z.
Does social distancing mean financial exclusion?
As we hurtle into a digital age, leaving cash in the rearview, there are ramifications of going completely cashless to consider. We must take into consideration how removing cash could disenfranchise over a quarter of our society; 26% of the global population doesn’t have a traditional bank account. Across Latin America, 38% of shoppers are unbanked, and nearly 1 in 5 online transactions are completed with cash. While in Africa and the Middle East, only 50% of consumers are banked in the traditional sense, and 12% have access to a credit card. Even here in the UK, approximately 1.3 million UK adults are classed as unbanked, exposing the large number of consumers affected by any ban on cash.
Even when shopping online – many consumers rely on cash-based payments. At the checkout page, consumers are provided with a barcode for their order. They take this barcode (either printed or on their mobile device) to a local convenience store or bank and pay in cash. At that point, the goods are shipped.
There are also older generations to consider. Following the closure of one in eight banks and cashpoints during Coronavirus, the government faced calls to act swiftly to protect access to cash, as pensioners struggled to access their savings. Despite the direction society is headed, there are a significant number of older people that still rely on cash – they have grown up using it. With an estimated two million people in the UK relying on cash for day to day spending, it is important that it does not disappear in its entirety.
Supporting the transition away from cash
Cashless protocols not only restrict access to goods and services for consumers but also limit revenue opportunity for merchants. While 2020 has provided the global economy with one great reason to reduce the acceptance of cash, the payments industry has billions of reasons to offer multiple options that cater to the needs of every kind of shopper around the world.
Whilst it seems younger generations are driving LPM adoption, it is important that older generations aren’t forgotten. If online shops fail to offer a variety of preferred payment methods, consumers will not hesitate to shop elsewhere. With 44% of consumers reporting they would stop a purchase online if their favourite payment method wasn’t available – this is something merchants need to address to attract and retain loyal customers.
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