Following increased cyber-attacks on various sectors of the Nigerian economy, and its attendant monetary loss, Territory Manager for Africa at Symantec, Mr. Sheldon Hand, has said that the attack on financial institutions constitutes the greatest threat to global economies.
Hand, who spoke with THISDAY in Lagos at a financial technology seminar organised by Computer warehouse Group (CWG) in collaboration with Symantec Security Software Company, said the structure of modern economies showed that financial institutions remained critical national infrastructure, hence the attraction to cyber-attacks.
He insisted that every financial institution must be guarded by appropriate solutions that would prevent it from cyber-attacks that could cause downtime.
Also, General Manager, Sales at CWG, Mr. Dayo Abegunde, told THISDAY in a separate interview that downtime could cause huge revenue loss to organisations, shareholders and to the economy at large, as a result of cyber-attacks.
"A bank's credit and debit cards that were compromised through cyber-attacks, can become dysfunctional at any point in time, and cause embarrassment to the card holder. Should the customer decides to dump the card, it will further cause financial loss to the bank and to the nation's economy at large, Abegunde said"
He explained that the increasing rate of cyber-attacks on financial institutions compelled CWG to partner financial software security experts like Symantec, to address the issue of cyber-attack, especially on financial institutions.
According to him, "Typical working hours in the financial institutions have shifted from the usual to an extended period and again technology has enlarged the customers of financial institutions from local to global customers, making it necessary for all financial institutions in the country to be abreast with business critical applications in order to maintain continuous business relationship with their customers."
The business critical applications, he said, would address the issue of downtime, so that there would be no delay in business transactions.
Citing example of Nigeria's move to become a cashless society, Hand said: "The only way Nigeria could succeed, is to rely strongly on Information Technology (IT) solutions that are geared towards the protection and prevention of cyber-attacks."
According to him, "financial institutions like the banks, come under heavy attacks on daily basis, but they will not make it public because of the sensitive role that financial institutions play in any economy."
Asked why financial institutions remained the preferred target to cyber-attacks, Hand explained that they would always be the target because they carry very valuable information that is related to people's identity, assets, and financial status.
"The criminal syndicate out there is looking for every means to exploit financial information because of the perceived gains, and because the attacks are on the increase, most banks are becoming conscious of using technology solutions that will prevent such attacks and Symantec has been providing such solutions, through its partner, the Computer Warehouse Group, who in turn, provide the services and solutions as turnkey solutions to financial institutions," Hand said.
Cyber-attacks on financial institutions, according to Hand, remained a challenge that is evolving. "As solution providers introduce high-level solutions to address the menace, the online hackers are also coming up with new ways to beat the technology, but that will not deter us, as we will continue to be innovative in our solutions," Hand said.