Cyber security preventive mechanisms can retain trust in financial institutions

Mrs Abiola Bawuah

Banks and financial Institutions should embrace cyber security preventive mechanisms and work assiduously to ensure retention of trust in Ghana’s financial system.

“Cyber threat is continuously evolving and as custodians of the financial sector, let us embrace the cyber security preventive mechanisms and work assiduously to ensure retention of trust in our financial system.”

Mrs Abiola Bawuah, Regional Chief Executive Officer, West Africa, United Bank for Africa (Group) Limited, said this at the induction and award ceremony of the Chartered Institute of Credit Management (CICM) Ghana’s Maiden Presidential Ball ceremony in Accra.

The ceremony was used to induct 52 members into CICM Ghana. Seven persons were conferred with Honorary membership, thirty five were awarded as Chartered fellows. Seven persons who had distinguished themselves in various businesses over the years were also awarded as Honorary fellows.

Mrs Bawuah recounted that as fraudsters become more agile in their methods, Banks and other financial institutions must also adapt and stay ahead of them.

“As banks, we must ensure that security is paramount in all our decision especially in technology and processes that can expose us or our customers to cyber attacks.”

According to Mrs Bawuah, internal collusion remained a strong factor in most cyber attacks.

“The defense against cybercrime is one that has to start from within every financial institution. Internal governance, framework from internal control, Audit, compliance and risk and credit management should be at their best,” Mrs Bawuah stressed.

She said there was also the need for constant education of bank staff and customers on the various typologies of cyber fraud.

The CEO of UBA Bank emphasised the need to conduct rigorous background checks on workers in sensitive roles as well as other staff.

“Investigate staff living above their means and most importantly compensate adequately to protect staff from undue financial pressure.”

On the COVID-19 pandemic, Mrs Bawuah said banks had been compelled to use technology more to deliver financial services.

She said because banks and financial institutions were providing services through digital channels, there had been a reduction in face to face interaction.

Consequently, she said banks and financial institutions had become prime targets for cyber-attacks by criminals all over the world.

Citing the Ghana’s Criminal Investigation Department data, Mrs Bawuah said between 2016-2018 the country lost $97 million to cybercrime related activities.

She called for collaboration between Bank of Ghana, Banks and Financial institutions to deal with emerging threats of cybercrime.

According to her, cyber criminals were obtaining access to personal data via data breaches by using personal information to gain customer’s trust in scams or takeover some accounts.

“Fraudsters are aggressively using SMS authentication with phone porting, Phone spoofing of legitimate business…scammers have attempted to record victim’s voices to bypass voice recognition, finger prints, biometric and customer personal data sourced from cyber market places.

She said digital transformation was “changing fraud typologies and therefore to respond, banks needed to be proactive and update their fraud risk framework… Look for next generation prevention and detection solutions.”

Dr Cudjoe Awudi, Director, Corporate Planning, monitoring and Evaluation, Forestry Commission, who chaired the occasion, urged stakeholders in the financial sector to look for solutions to cybercrime as huge sums of monies were being lost.

Dr Awudi said cyber security threats were real and scarier than most pandemics, saying however that with effective collaboration, it could be contained.

Mr Amu Agyapong, Executive Secretary of CICM, Ghana, noted that businesses thrived on credit hence the need for the public understand credit issues in order to promote the growth of businesses.

The programme was on the theme: “This era of COVID-19, Conundrum and the increase Cyber security Threat in the banking and financial Service industry.”

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