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Tackling cyber threats through technology and education

It may feel like a lifetime ago, what with one thing and another, but up until as recently as a month or two ago, financial crime and cyber security was in the running for the issue most likely to keep treasurers up at night. Over US$10bn in global fines were doled out to companies and financial institutions in 2019 for non-compliance with AML, KYC and sanctions regulations. Since 2008, the total value of fines amounts to a staggering US$36bn billion.

While COVID-19 business continuity essentials are now a key consideration, the cyber threat remains. Indeed, there are some despicable examples of fraudsters using the pandemic as a way to scam businesses and individuals. The UK’s National Fraud Intelligence Bureau estimated that £1.6m had been harvested by criminal virus-related scams, a number that will certainly rise, while the recent AFP Payments Fraud and Control survey highlighted the prevalence of business email compromise attacks. This tactic can be a particular stress to corporates during this time of remote working.

The good news is that, just as cyber criminals aren’t letting up their efforts during lockdown, neither are those in the financial services industry that are tasked with stopping the fraudsters. A couple of stories today demonstrate this, the first of which is a new agreement signed between Fenergo and IBM. Their original equipment manufacturing (OEM) agreement that will allow the companies to collaborate on solutions that can help clients address the multitude of financial risks they face.

The agreement enables IBM and Fenergo to create solutions that combine Fenergo’s client lifecycle management (CLM) offering with IBM’s RegTech portfolio of anti-money laundering (AML) and know-your-client (KYC) solutions, all built with Watson. As a result, IBM will offer companies a complete AI application suite that is focused on risk and compliance and helps clients fend off financial criminals and meet their intensifying regulatory requirements for disclosure.

IBM plans to build on this work to assist clients in integrating AI-driven insights from its Financial Crimes Insights series of solutions into Fenergo’s CLM solution. Fenergo’s software is designed to help clients further reduce false positives in the AML and KYC solutions, reduce the costs of manual intervention, drive operational efficiencies, and improve overall customer experiences.

Cyber education for executives

As well as software, education is critical to understanding best practice to avoid cyber threats. On this topic, the University of Oxford and Mastercard have announced that they are teaming up on cyber skills programme.

The Saïd Business School’s Oxford Cyber Futures online programme is aimed at equipping senior executives to address new cyber risks and opportunities, using next-generation learning tools.

The six-week all-digital programme will cover critical topics in artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, threat analytics, data privacy and digital ethics. The thought leaders from academia and industry presenting the programme include the University of Oxford’s David Shrier (Programme Director), Pinar Ozcan (Professor of Entrepreneurship and Innovation), Luciano Floridi (Professor of Philosophy and Ethics of Information), Ivan Martinovic (Professor of Computer Science), Martin Schmalz (Associate Professor of Finance), Andrew White (Associate Dean of Executive Education) and Alex ‘Sandy’ Pentland (Visiting Professor).

With research, content and data from academics and industry leaders, Oxford Cyber Futures aims to reframe the challenges presented by an increasingly complex global cybersecurity landscape. Programme participants will gain an understanding of new concepts in software architecture, analyse critical issues in cybersecurity, digital privacy, net neutrality, data governance, artificial intelligence and digital ethics, and how they change the way society and businesses operate.

“Responsible cyber practice is one of the greatest business challenges of this generation, but also one of our greatest opportunities,” said Ajay Bhalla, president, Cyber & Intelligence at Mastercard. “We, as leaders, have a responsibility to safeguard customer security, mitigate risk and ensure the right regulatory guardrails are in place. To do this, we must stay at the very forefront of technologies that will grow and protect future industry. This course will equip leaders with the skills, insights and tools to do that - and, crucially, in a way that engenders public trust.”

“Demand for online learning has reached unprecedented levels in the wake of broader digital advancements, and more recently the COVID-19 crisis,” said Andrew White, associate dean for Executive Education at Saïd Business School. “We are therefore excited to add a new programme to our portfolio of digital experiences, extending our track record of bringing thought leadership and management capabilities to a wider audience through our outstanding online learning channels,”

The programme’s advanced digital learning environment integrates AI together with neuroscience and cognitive science, digital tools for greater engagement, and a set of cyber defence simulations specifically designed for the Oxford Cyber Futures programme. Oxford has retained digital pioneer Esme Learning Solutions to provision dynamic real-time capabilities that enhance the collaborative nature of the online experience.

“Our business is equipping leaders to rapidly acquire new knowledge and skills they can use immediately, to deal with both the problems of today, as well as the challenges of tomorrow,” commented David Shrier, programme director for Oxford Cyber Futures.


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