A shortage of cyber security skills in financial services is continuing to grow - and has been brought into sharp focus by COVID-19.
That’s the view of an industry veteran with more than two decades experience working with international banks in North America, Europe and Asia.
OpenText’s Monica Hovsepian says the pandemic has provided the ultimate stress test for banks and financial institutions who are trying to restore customer trust following the Hayne Inquiry and are now faced with the dual impacts of COVID-19 and Open Banking.
“Banks must be clear and transparent on the products and services they’re offering, which will go a long way to rebuild the trust with customers,” she said.
“In addition, financial organisations must be proactive, and if needed reactive, to the needs and concerns of customers to strengthen the relationship.
“This can only be achieved by empowering employees with the right information and tools to service customers.
“Recent changes in the ways in which we work has brought this to the fore, highlighting gaps between those that are digital doers and digital fakers.
“COVID-19 has made the Royal Commission feel like so long ago and provided the ultimate stress test for financial institutions. One of the effects of the pandemic is the increase in cyber threats and attacks.
“The finance sector has been the most targeted sector with financial institutions experiencing a significant increase in cyberattacks.”
This has been highlighted by the Financial Services Information Sharing and Analysis Center whose membership is made up of 7,000 financial services organisations around the world. It identified more than 1,500 high-risk domains created on or after 1 January 2020 containing both a COVID-19 and a financial theme.
“With that in mind and as remote-work continues, it’s imperative for banks to ensure their networks are secure and cybercriminals are being kept at bay,” she added.
But it’s also about educating consumers
“As part of their cybersecurity plans, banks should also educate customers on potential threats they may be faced with, such as phishing attacks where attackers purport to be from the bank in order to dupe people into clicking links or providing sensitive information.
“Overall, it is during difficult times that banks and financial organisations build trust with their customer base by ensuring they are there for them, which in turn builds loyalty and brand promise.”
The need to hire more cyber specialists is already at the top of the agenda for many.
A joint CSIRO and and AustCyber report highlighting the found that Australia will need an additional 18,000 people in cyber security by 2026.
“The global skills shortage is nothing new. Last year we were calling out the lack of skills in AI and cybersecurity—now we’re looking at other skills,” she said.
“As Financial Servies Institutions transition from the “new normal” to the “next normal” and embrace remote-working models, there will be a need to re-skill, up-skill and acquire new talent to enable employees to adequately service customers.
"It’s a trend we’re already seeing globally and extends beyond just Open Banking.
So what’s the best way for organisations to go about this?
“I recommend a hybrid model where organisations focus both on retraining staff, but also on acquiring talent with the skills ready to go. Of course, it depends on an organisation’s unique circumstances.
“All that said, the skills shortage is only one part of a larger problem. Banks need to enable employees with clearly defined business processes, technology to support day-to-day activities.”