"With consistent news coverage of cyber-attacks, it is vital for finance firms to remain compliant under the terms of the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation."
Financial services firms are risking data security breaches by using insecure instant messaging apps, according to research from software firm StarLeaf.
Its survey revealed that 78% of IT decision-makers within financial services have serious security concerns around the use of free consumer messaging apps such as WhatsApp.
The research also found that instant messaging is overtaking email, with 61% of respondents in the financial services sector stating it is the most effective way to communicate with remote colleagues, compared to 58% for email.
The transition from email to instant messaging is further reflected in the survey, with 52% of financial services respondents reporting an increase in the use of free messaging apps.
However, 85% of respondents admitted that the security of their instant messaging apps could be improved.
StarLeaf says the unsecure apps leave firms open to data breaches, providing a point of entry for hackers to disrupt business operations and steal customer data.
William MacDonald, chief technology officer at StarLeaf, said: “Data security and protection has never been more crucial within the financial industry. With consistent news coverage of cyber-attacks, it is vital for finance firms to remain compliant under the terms of the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
"We have already seen high-profile cases this year where high street banks have been hacked and lost sensitive information. It has never been more important for financial services to tighten internal processes for data sharing and to ensure data transmission is secure, so customer and commercial details do not fall into the wrong hands.
“Financial organisations should engage with vendors that prioritise security and develop their instant messaging solutions in-house, as well as fully own their technology architecture and data centres. Cloud-based solutions are intelligently engineered to allow enterprise users to reliably and securely connect, communicate, and collaborate more efficiently. This allows organisations to choose the jurisdiction of their data jurisdiction so that they know their data remains within their control and cannot be accessed by third-parties.
“Instant messaging is a growing part of our culture of communication, but financial organisations should adopt the right solutions to minimise risk and protect users’ data. Secure messaging engineered for the enterprise enables a more mobilised workforce to meet and message more effectively, as well as retain customer trust."