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Why We Need To Talk About Cyber Security And Biometrics Today

04 October 2017

This article summarises Andy Edler’s plenary talk on disruptive technology at Equiniti’s Employee Services Forum 2017.

The growth of fraud and extortion through cyber crime is exponential. Whether that’s allegations of hacking the US election or losing customer details, it’s out of control to the point that it’s commonplace. It is not a case of if you will be hacked, but when: it’s almost guaranteed.The responsibility to address the issue lies not with the police or the government – but organisations themselves.

Andy.png Andy Edler, Director of Strategy & Business Development for EQ Digital

There is no time to waste when it comes to addressing corporate cyber security risks, according to Andy Edler, Director of Strategy & Business Development for EQ Digital. We live in a highly volatile time where nothing stands still and everything is open to disruption.

Speaking at Equiniti’s Employee Services Forum 2017, Andy revealed that, when it comes to cyber security, this state-of-play brings with it both positives and negatives.

While hackers advance their tactics at lightning-speed, the technology to protect against attacks also increases in sophistication. 

But who is winning today?

Of the attendees at the Employee Services Forum, more than one in ten have experienced an organisational breach this year alone. This prevalence is reflected in the wider world: as the number of traditional crimes like theft and burglary falls, the rate of fraud and cyber crime skyrockets, now accounting for half of all crimes. This cost UK businesses £29 billion last year, or an average of £2.9 million worth of damage per breach.

“Nobody budgets for this – nobody puts £3 million to one side ‘just in case’. Who has that sort of margin to play with?” asks Andy. Indeed, the damage can be a game changer. When credit firm, Equifax, lost 143 million customer records, almost 20% was wiped off the organisational value in under a week.

Andy works with the world’s biggest organisations to establish the software, data services and specialist resourcing options that will help mitigate their risks now and for the future. People call on him when they need help fast, so he sees first-hand the damage caused when businesses are unprepared.

Every organisation should have in place a robust strategy and sophisticated solutions to (a) protect against cyber attacks and (b) to react quickly when the worst happens,” he states, adding, “but they don’t.

As a result, IT professionals are living in fear. An overwhelming majority of CIOs (87%) believe their security controls are failing to protect their business. Nearly as many (77%) worry they will face more security threats over the next five years because of a lack of skilled staff.

The Bring Your Own Device trend and the more laid-back approach to data security displayed by millennials (who will soon make up half of the workforce) can only further increase the risks.

So what can be done?

With research at the Employee Services Forum revealing 71% of attendees believe their biggest risk when it comes to cyber crime is from people inside the organisation rather than outside (24%), addressing the risks “has to be the responsibility of every individual, not just the IT team,” says Andy. In fact, of Forum attendees, already almost half (48%) see the duty being shared, with HR actively informing cyber security policy in their company.

Whatever their job role, Andy’s advice to individuals looking to step-up their organisation’s cyber processes and be ready for the inevitable is:

  • Engage your people: Make sure employees are on the journey with you and know the role they have to play. Think well beyond risk, compliance, HR and customer service.
  • Educate everyone: Your customers, as well as your employees, need to know what to look for and how to react. They need to be reminded regularly if you want to change behaviour.
  • Know your team: Carry out background checks to ensure the actions of candidates reflect your expectations.
  • Harness the power of technology: To keep up with hackers, the most sophisticated technology is the only option.

One of these technological options is using biometric authentication – such as your thumbprint, eye scan or sound of your voice – to supplement easily forged (and forgotten) passwords. Let’s look at this solution in more detail.

 The biometric era

Tim Cook’s announcement that the iPhone X will use biometrics is likely to fuel a boom in adoption of the technology. It’s already used widely – in everything from Teslas to immigration to Mastercards – and it’s anticipated there will be a 20% increase in the next two-and-a-half years alone.

In our fast-moving digital world, using biometrics is a win-win achieving two important objectives. It not only increases security but also improves the customer experience, with research showing companies embracing biometrics see a rise in NPS scores and retention rates. Easy to use and offering peace of mind, consumers are starting to demand biometrics.

The potential operational impact is also huge, helping companies to meet legislative requirements and driving self-service because, at the moment, 72% of calls to bank contact centres are to reset passwords.

Biometric identification has many benefits, foremost that it is one component of the complex solution to ever-accelerating cyber security risks.

To find out about cyber security, biometrics or how Equiniti’s voice, facial and document recognition solutions could help you mitigate risk contact Andrew Edler