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Beat the hackers: Cyber security for the benefit of business

Rapid advances in technology have left businesses' IT systems increasingly exposed to threats from hackers. What steps should you take to guard against cybercrime?

Recent surveys conducted by KPMG suggest investors don't feel confident in company boards' ability to respond to this problem adequately and boards themselves echo these doubts:

  • Only 43% of 133 institutional investors believed that the board members of the companies in which they had invested were capable of managing the risk.
  • An earlier survey indicated that 39% of FTSE 350 board members and management considered themselves poorly positioned to address the issue.

High-profile cases, such as the infiltration of Sony Picture Entertainment's network in 2014, point to cyber security as a genuine danger companies must face. Nor is it specific to large firms: smaller businesses are also liable to be targeted.

Theft of data can be costly. It can deter investment, undermine competitive advantage and create reputational damage. We’ve all heard how the loss of private client data erodes confidence and can set a business back years.

Clearly there's a lot to learn about the new technological climate and the Library & Information Service can help you understand the issues at stake. So, what sort of things should you be considering when assessing resilience?

  • Boards' responsibilities and how they can minimise the chance of cyber-security breaches.
  • Strategic guidance for senior management and good practice for employees generally.
  • The legal environment.
  • Identifying potential vulnerabilities.
  • Protective measures for accountancy practices.
  • Auditing to optimise cyber security controls.
  • Cyber security in particular contexts, such as financial services institutions or corporate finance activity.
  • The broader international picture, where not only businesses but also governments and private citizens are affected.
  • Issues around regulation, assurance and organisational standards.
  • Companies specialising in providing cyber security services as a growing sector.

Much of the material written about this subject has been published very recently and as such reflects the business community's heightened awareness of both the threat it poses and an urgency to address it. ICAEW faculties have issued a number of documents about secure IT systems across different forms and levels of business.

Take a look at the Library's web pages on IT security and the ICAEW's cyber security resource centre or tell us what you'd like to know about cyber security and we'll be happy to help – email us at library@icaew.com.