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By Regi Publico

While technology has provided businesses with opportunities and markets to tap into, like ecommerce, robotics, and AR technology, it has also introduced unseen threats that companies should be mindful of. Every day, if not every hour, companies face new threats that can put their operations at a standstill and damage both the company’s reputation and bottom line. Cybersecurity should be on every company’s priority list because being connected has its advantages, but it also exposes companies to risks.

What is cybersecurity?

Because of a highly modernized world, businesses are at risk not only from physical threats but unseen ones as well. Cybersecurity is a set of systems and processes that combat digital threats to ensure the company and client information, processes, and technologies are safe from internal and external threats. Cybersecurity is critical in keeping the company’s data integrity, systems, and reputation intact. Since most cyber threats target financial assets, a company’s finance professionals should serve as key players in keeping cyber threats at bay.

How finance can drive cybersecurity preparedness

Main source of information related to financial assets

An essential step in protecting something is knowing where it is and where it’s going. Finance professionals are the best people to drive cybersecurity preparedness, as they are the primary guardians of the company’s monetary resources. By staying true to their primary function, which is the control of the organization’s cash flow, finance professionals can provide valuable insight on how to best secure these assets and identify internal and external risks that can threaten the company. These risks can come from anywhere, from gaps in financial applications to data security concerns with third-party suppliers. Leading the discussion of these possible threats with key members of the company’s cybersecurity team can potentially save the organization time and money.

Make cybersecurity part of the team’s lookouts

The responsibility of ensuring cybersecurity should not fall on one person’s shoulders alone. Finance leaders should ensure that proper briefing and training are in place whenever there are new systems. When employees are equipped with the right tools and information, companies minimize the risk of human error that can lead to cybersecurity concerns in the future. By highlighting the serious consequences of cybersecurity breaches and the finance team’s role in avoiding such risks, every team member is encouraged to always be on the lookout for possible gaps and potential threats.

Quantify consequences

Aside from the company’s reputation taking a hit, gaps in cybersecurity lead to outright losses like operational costs due to temporary system shutdowns and line interruptions. These gaps also lead to monetary losses in the long run, especially when client trust and the company’s reputation are damaged. Finance is the best team to quantify and communicate potential losses or damages should there be a failure in the team’s cybersecurity plan. Adding a monetary value to the consequences can give the organization the drive to act accordingly and create more urgency to put an effective cybersecurity plan in place. Financial leaders should be able to lead this difficult conversation by quantifying how much can be lost when a company fails to secure itself from cyber threats.

Get involved in the planning  

Because the finance team has visibility on the movement of assets and is the best person to quantify the consequences of cybersecurity failure, it is only right to have a finance resource person included in a company’s cyber risk management team. They can provide valuable insights on how much the company stands to lose if they fail to execute an effective cybersecurity strategy and help identify possible gaps within the system. Having a finance professional in the cybersecurity planning sessions ensures the safety of both data integrity and the company’s resources.

Lead cybersecurity spending discussions

At the end of the day, a company’s bottom line is what investors and executives pay the most attention to. Anything that affects that will understandably be put under a discerning microscope, even cybersecurity spending. Finance representatives should be able to help by making sure the cybersecurity fund is being spent in the appropriate channels and by quantifying the importance of having an effective cybersecurity fund in place. Highlighting potential losses that can be incurred from breaches along with where the cybersecurity funds will be allocated to paints a better picture to executives as to why cybersecurity is not just a one-time expense for compliance, but an investment to secure the company’s future.

Businesses today have flourished largely due to modern technology, but they are also forced to remain vigilant towards unseen cyber threats. A company’s finance department should do its best to lead the conversation about cybersecurity preparedness and compliance risk management in general, as they are the gatekeeper of the company’s assets. However, the priority of safeguarding business assets and reputation should be a company-wide effort. Making sure that every member of the organization is aware of cyber threats and the company’s cybersecurity measures is critical in maintaining client trust and efficient business operations.

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