Financial services a top target for cybercrime, says PwC

11 March 2014

The financial services sector is still a top target for cybercriminals, according to a study published by PwC, with the poll revealing that 39 per cent of respondents who work in financial services and have been affected by fraud were victims of cybercrime.

This compares to just 17 per cent in other industries, indicating that the sector is a top priority target for cybercriminals.

A total of 5,128 individuals were questioned on cybercrime and security, with 1,330 responses coming from the financial services sector.

The poll found that around 45 per cent of financial services respondents have been victims of economic crime, with around half of these reporting an increase in the number of these incidents and in the cost of the crime during the period.

Cybercrime was found to be the second most common form of economic crime for financial services firms, with 39 per cent of respondents from this area hit.

However, PwC believes these figures are extremely low, due to the increasing frequency of cyber attacks and the focus those who perpetrate them have on financial firms.

Therefore, the accounting giant believes that many attacks go undetected and unnoticed and the firm also noted a significant difference in the perception of cybercrime risk within financial services organisations.

Whereas respondents with internal audit, compliance and risk functions believe future attacks are likely, finance and executive management financial services thought they were unlikely.

PwC noted that banks and many financial services firms are surprisingly blasé about the danger cyber attacks pose and the likelihood they will be targeted. Just 41 per cent of respondents believe that they will experience cybercrime in the next two years, although more than half think that the threat is increasing.

In the UK, the government and financial sector have begun working together to stress test the industry and ensure it is correctly prepared for a major cyber attack. Operation Waking Shark II went ahead earlier this year and it found that some improvements had been made, but that financial institutions still have a long way to go.

By Gary Cooper

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