subscribe Support our award-winning journalism. The Premium package (digital only) is R30 for the first month and thereafter you pay R129 p/m now ad-free for all subscribers.
Subscribe now
In Sage's CFO 3.0 research report, 66% of respondents said cloud-based systems are secure. Picture: SUPPLIED/SAGE
In Sage's CFO 3.0 research report, 66% of respondents said cloud-based systems are secure. Picture: SUPPLIED/SAGE

A common misconception is that solely the IT team is responsible for cybersecurity. 

Cybersecurity is everyone's responsibility, especially since people can be weak links in securing the business. Whether it's phishing, malware or data leaks, human error is often at the root of the problem. 

When it comes to cloud security, the issues aren't always related to the technology — cloud infrastructure can be just as secure as enterprise data centres. Your problems will arise if the cloud is not implemented correctly and is used without proper security. 

When using cloud infrastructure, your employees must understand their responsibilities, and your company should implement processes that protect users from themselves.

Remote working and cybersecurity challenges 

Your security risks may have increased because of the effect of Covid-19 on remote working. As a result, your employees are more likely to share data, including financials, across personal computers and other devices. 

Ideally, your company should have confidentiality policies and guidance for employees to store documents securely. 

You should check with your IT provider to see if the system is as secure for remote workers as it is for office-based employees. Because home broadband connections are frequently less secure than business-grade connections, you should think about using a virtual private network.

However, some businesses may have cut corners to provide employees access to remote work via the cloud.

According to Sage research, 45% of finance leaders are concerned about the growing threat of cybercrime, and 95% don’t know which data to trust. 

It looks like many firms will continue with remote working, which means chief financial officers (CFOs) will need to adapt security solutions to the new mobile workforce that relies on various technologies. 

The importance of cybersecurity for CFOs 

As more financial activities operate remotely through the cloud, CFOs will need to develop security measures tailored to the finance department. 

Many of your financial procedures already running remotely may contain some of your company's most sensitive information, such as financial data from customers and suppliers. 

You are in charge of some of your company's most precious data. Therefore, security should be a priority. If your company is hacked and data is stolen, you may be held accountable.

With finance teams being particularly vulnerable to cyberattacks, CFOs need to be well-versed in emerging IT security challenges, dangers and legal frameworks. They must co-ordinate with both IT and risk managers to ensure that new cybersecurity risks arising from the adoption of remote work do not outpace the policies established to protect susceptible data.

Bottom line: You shouldn't overlook emerging security vulnerabilities, but you also shouldn't go it alone.

When it comes to financial data, CFOs should be wary of the following threats:

  • Phishing attacks: Phishing attacks deceive employees into disclosing sensitive financial information, primarily via email, voice calls and text messaging.
  • Malware: Malware refers to malicious software, files or programs that are meant to harm and disrupt systems.
  • Data leaks: Valuable financial information can be leaked via business and home internet connections through laptops, PCs, mobile phones and tablets.

How cloud computing can assist in overcoming cybersecurity challenges 

When appropriately designed, cloud solutions can be more secure than on-premise alternatives. Cloud providers often guarantee the safety and security of their platforms and offer extra security features to their customers, such as password protection, encryption and access limitations based on user profiles. 

Businesses can also take advantage of 24/7 monitoring and specialist cybersecurity teams trained to identify and respond to threats and minimise damage. 

In Sage's CFO 3.0 research report, 66% of respondents said cloud-based systems are secure. Fast-forward 18+ months and 88% of respondents in this study who already use the cloud say their systems are more secure than before, and 65% say they benefit from safer data processes and storage.

However, you should be sure that the cloud providers can meet your needs. 

There are variances across cloud providers, large and small, so be prepared to ask probing questions about how they safeguard your data and equipment.

Because remote working entails user-managed devices and remote access, don't use cloud software until you know exactly how users will access it, what they will see and how you will manage them. 

One of the main security advantages of cloud apps over on-premise systems is the simplicity with which software may be patched and upgraded. With new threats continuously developing, cloud providers just need to send out a single remedy to many users whenever a vulnerability exists. Users will always have the most recent and secure software versions. 

But keep in mind that cloud technology is only as safe as your people.

No technology will help if your staff leave credentials out in the open or click every link in their emails without thinking. Train, educate and instil a security-first culture.

How CFOs can begin implementing cloud technology:

  • Determine your objectives

Get a firm grasp on how cloud software can help your company. Determine which activities will be automated and how much time will be saved on financial operations. The more tangible the goals, the more buy-in you'll obtain from the rest of the team. Measurable key performance indicators will be helpful in this situation. 

  • Examine your current infrastructure 

Sage's research found that 83% of businesses plan to automate manual tasks. Before making any changes, it's vital to identify which of your procedures are operating correctly. Implementing cloud software can be a complex process. Therefore a good audit can help you prioritise your cloud activities and decide which systems and apps to transfer first, depending on the value they provide your organisation.

  • Maintain open lines of communication with your teams

Before you can get buy-in, you need to show your finance team and the rest of the organisation what the cloud can accomplish for them. Throughout the process, you must communicate. Your staff plays an essential role in security by understanding and adhering to best practices. 

  • Get the necessary assistance 

You will need to speak to cloud providers and ask the appropriate questions. What is their track record in terms of security and compliance? What type of assistance can you expect from them? Work with top management, IT teams and other departments to get the information you need, and consider hiring outside help to assure long-term success.

It's a primary concern when a company's client data or business information is compromised. And in most situations, the problem is a lack of management and implementation by the respective firm. 

Moving your financial systems to the cloud will increase security while also enabling a more flexible work environment to support workers — regardless of location — and assist them in avoiding mistakes that might jeopardise personal data and the organisation.

This article was paid for by Sage.

subscribe Support our award-winning journalism. The Premium package (digital only) is R30 for the first month and thereafter you pay R129 p/m now ad-free for all subscribers.
Subscribe now

Would you like to comment on this article?
Sign up (it's quick and free) or sign in now.

Speech Bubbles

Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.