"It is imperative those working in financial services understand the risks they face, and how best to prepare for the worst."
Just 6% of advisers recognise the threat posed by cyber security as a major challenge for their business, despite the risk of attacks increasing, according to research by Fidelity’s FundsNetwork.
The survey found that advisers are primarily concerned with the challenges presented by compliance and changing regulation - with only a small minority worried about attacks on their systems or managing clients’ concerns about cyber security.
The National Cyber Security Centre handled more than 10 attacks per week within its first two years, and has identified financial services as a targeted sector.
Jackie Boylan, head of FundsNetwork at Fidelity International, said: “Cyber security is one of the biggest risks companies face, with attacks increasingly sophisticated in nature. Sectors associated with the transfer or holding of sensitive customer data - particularly financial data - are a prime target for hackers. Therefore, it is imperative those working in financial services understand the risks they face, and how best to prepare for the worst.
“While there are steps advisers can take to bolster their own systems, one of the first points for consideration should be encouraging vigilance amongst employees - making sure they know how to spot potential scams. Email provides hackers with an easy point of entry into an organisation; simply clicking on a link can provide them with access to data and the ability to cause widespread disruption. Increasing awareness of risks can help to encourage behavioural change, ensuring everyone understands their responsibility to pause and think about the materials they access.”
Heather Hopkins at NextWealth, added: “Cyber security is important but often gets left off the urgent list in businesses. Our research for FundsNetwork suggests this is the case in many financial advice businesses. Pressing day-to-day challenges have a habit of superseding long-term structural challenges. Cyber security is on the radar but firms may not be doing enough to protect themselves and their clients.”