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Industry roundup: 31 March

FS-ISAC report finds cybercriminals and nation-state actors converging, increasing cross-border and supply chain attacks

FS-ISAC, a global cyber intelligence sharing community solely focused on financial services, has announced the findings of its latest report, which found that wittingly or otherwise, nation-states and cybercriminals are leveraging each other’s tools and tactics, leading to an increase in cross-border attacks targeting financial services suppliers.

The pandemic has accelerated digitisation, connectivity, and the sector’s interdependence, as demonstrated by recent supply chain incidents. Increasingly, the financial sector needs a trusted conduit of real-time cyber information between institutions and third parties.

“Organisations properly practicing defence-in-depth with multi-layered controls are still vulnerable to large-scale and even systemic issues through third party suppliers,” said J.R. Manes, global head of Cyber Intelligence at HSBC. “The FS-ISAC community provides its members the visibility into emerging threats that could impact customers and business, even when they are not directly exposed. Ensuring and encouraging the sharing of cyber threat intelligence is a vital part of the defence of not only the financial sector, but the whole business ecosystem that runs on top of the internet.”

The main findings from the report include the following:

  • Convergence of nation-states and cybercriminals: Nation-state actors are leveraging the skills and tools of cyber criminals, either knowingly or not, to enhance their own capabilities.
  • Third-party risk on an upward trend: Suppliers to financial firms will continue to be lucrative targets for threat actors, as shown by three highly visible incidents in the last two quarters.
  • Cross-border attacks will increase: Cyber criminals test their attack in one country before hitting multiple continents and sub-verticals, as shown by a DDoS extortion campaign targeting approximately 100 financial institutions in months.


Cash flow is key reason for SMEs applying for finance

Cash flow is the key motivation for SMEs applying for finance, according to an index of UK brokers by small business lender iwoca. The firm's latest SME Expert Index, which covers a four-week period in January, reveals that 41% of brokers said the most requested reason for applying for unsecured finance was to ‘manage day to day cash flows’. One in four brokers stated that to ‘grow the business’ was the most common purpose for a loan, while 20% suggested that bridging cash flow gaps was the key driver behind finance applications.

These results - to be published every second month by iwoca - suggest that small business owners are using finance for short-term means rather than long-term projects, and may reflect the wider uncertainty in the economy at the time as businesses look to shore up their finances rather than invest for growth.

Despite the application deadline for the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) coming to a close, demand for the government-backed loan scheme remained relatively steady in January compared to the previous month; 57% of brokers said it was broadly the same. One in five (18%) brokers submitted more applications for the scheme in January than in December, whilst one quarter reported that they had submitted fewer applications.

However, brokers suggest that demand for unsecured finance from small business owners rose slightly in January compared to December, with over one third of respondents (36%) stating that they had submitted more applications to lenders compared to 18% who had submitted fewer.


Moneris and BMO target B2B payments in Canada

Moneris Solutions Corporation (Moneris), a Canadian processor of debit and credit card payments, has collaborated with BMO to provide its Canadian commercial clients with Moneris B2B Pay, an automated payment processing solution powered by straight-through processing. This collaboration is designed to help streamline the B2B payment process and provide greater operational efficiencies for both the buyer and supplier.

Moneris B2B Pay aims to help buyers and suppliers make secure, efficient transactions using virtual commercial cards, such as BMO’s Approve2Pay. By using a virtual card, buyers can initiate payments electronically and suppliers, such as manufacturers, wholesalers, and commercial services, can have funds automatically accepted and deposited into their account. BMO Commercial clients who sign up for BMO Approve2Pay and Moneris B2B Pay can benefit from Moneris’ supplier enablement service, which helps set up all of the client’s regular suppliers to accept virtual card payments if they do not support it yet.

“Digital B2B payments are not new to Canada, but many business owners have not had the time or resources to make the transition,” said Duri Alajrami, chief sales & marketing officer at Moneris. “By offering our enablement services to a buyer’s usual suppliers, Moneris B2B Pay removes the heavy lift from business owners so they know their payments are going through and can get back to running their business.”

With Moneris B2B Pay, payments are fully automated by straight-through processing, removing the need for manual inputs and reducing the cost and effort of making a payment. Automatically generated remittance reports speed up the reconciliation process at the end of the month. Businesses can also benefit by controlling and speeding up payments, adding safeguards against fraud, saving time reconciling, and improving trading partner relationships.

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