Combatting CEOs cyber security concerns

By Fraser Wilson, Head of Financial Services at PwC Scotland and Colin Slater, Cyber Security Partner and Scotland Risk Leader.

For businesses with digital adoption high on their agenda, the arrival of the pandemic was undoubtedly a catalyst moment. Customers moved online in their droves benefitting subscription services from Spotify to Peloton. Retailers moved rapidly to refocus their operations to the web, and customer service channels and ‘face to face’ services via video consultations, from high street banks to doctors surgeries, suddenly became normalised.

Scotland has a world leading FinTech ecosystem which has a key role in driving the innovations that allow businesses to transform customer experiences and adapt to a changing environment. However, the rapid pace of change has left many businesses feeling exposed to new risks.

Nearly two thirds (64%) of respondents to PwC’s 25th Annual CEO Survey said that they have significant concerns about cyber threats. In the UK, this outranked health risks, macroeconomic volatility and climate change as the threat to their business that CEOs are most concerned about, further cementing its elevation in business conscience.

And CEOs are right to worry. It’s an accepted fact that it’s not if but when a cyber attack will occur. CEOs’ main concern is around a catastrophic incident stunting business growth. As shown by the myriad of Ransomware cases, a successful cyber attack delivers more complex existential problems to solve. Associated issues we see, like not being able to pay salaries, deal with supply chains, place orders or give regulators the information they need; suddenly become pressing if you are in the midst of recovering your whole business.

Risk is a fundamental part of business. Companies are well practised at both mitigating risks and using them to take calculated business steps. Fintechs, in particular, have a role in both the defensive as well as proactive use of risk management. Being a good cyber citizen can be a huge market differentiator and demonstrating a good cyber posture and structure can also be hugely beneficial in any investment or deal situation. Being cyber aware and building a secure business are the foundational aspects for any fintech and will ultimately protect the valuable IP assets they are creating. While CEOs are right to be concerned, having an organisational approach to ‘think cyber’ across all strategic and tactical decisions is key to success. Putting the right structures in place now ultimately will pay dividends in the market later.

Our recent announcement that we’re strengthening our financial services team in Scotland is part of our commitment to helping businesses embrace technology and improve resilience and agility. With our cyber security hub in Scotland we are expanding and delivering services around the world as well as on our doorstep. Our Managed Operations Centre of Excellence is located in Edinburgh, alongside our Threat Intelligence team, so our local footprint is something we are rightly proud of. We’re determined to help CEOs tackle their cyber concerns head on and drive the Fintech agenda in Scotland.