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The MD of Polaris Bank emphasizes the need of addressing cybersecurity concerns

In order to secure the security of the online banking environment, Adekunle Sonola, managing director of Polaris Bank Limited, has emphasized the necessity to address the core concerns of human capital, technology, and third-party stakeholders.

According to Sonola, achieving a secure and long-lasting financial services sector requires addressing issues such as skill gaps, information sharing, and effective engagements with law enforcement agencies and regulators on a prompt conclusion of investigations, the capture of suspects, and the prosecution of those found guilty.

He said this in his keynote address at the 54th quarterly meeting of the Association of Chief Audit Executives of Banks in Nigeria in Lagos, themed ‘Cybersecurity threats and the challenges of building a sustainable financial sector’, according to a statement. He was represented by Segun Opeke, executive director of Lagos Business at Polaris Bank.

According to him, cyber risks represent a major threat affecting the banking industry today and thus the need for chief audit executives and other stakeholders to rise up to the challenges.

Sonola said a direct consequence of the pervasive adoption of technology is the increase in sophistication and frequency of cyber incidents with cyber threats everywhere and always changing, making it appear, in many instances, almost impossible to prepare for all threats or to keep up to date with best practices in cybersecurity.

“Cyber security risk is the real pandemic of modern times. It is ever present, increasing like a virus, and we cannot inoculate ourselves against it. The fact is that the increasing connectivity results in greater security risks and hackings are becoming more frequent from a greater variety of actors,” he said.

He said with the increase in frequency and sophistication of cyberattacks, the task of building a sustainable and resilient financial institution is becoming more challenging, from the high cost associated with maintaining an efficient cyber security programme for the issue around attraction and retaining skilled technical resources, managers in financial services industry face hard choices.

He identified three broad categories of risks facing the financial services sector including the people factor, third-party risk factor, and technology factor.

According to him, at the top of the cyber threats that the financial services industry is facing are human capital issues as people are responsible for both the threats and security of the system.

Sonola said: “If we talk about phishing attacks, people are the delivery medium. If we focus on malware, people are largely the execution factor, if we talk about weaknesses in systems configurations that allow an attacker to succeed in compromising systems; people are responsible for the maintenance of such systems.

“If we take a look at insider-related frauds and irregularities, we will see that people are at the centre of them all. The people factor remains a formidable threat agent for the survivor of any organisation and its cyber resiliency.

“An emerging issue around people is the current high rate of staff attrition occasioned mainly by ‘Japa’ syndrome and the attendant difficulty in resourcing to fill human capital vacancies.”

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