Six in ten financial institutions at risk of data breach due to poor data management

Six in ten (57%) senior executives in the UK financial services sector say their organisation is at risk of a data breach because data is so poorly managed, according to research from data and analytics strategy consultancy, Cynozure.

The data comes as the Bank of England’s annual Systemic Risk Survey* shows that cyber-attacks are the most cited risk to the UK financial system, ahead of inflation and geopolitical risks. And these concerns are well-founded – financial services and insurance firms have been the target for over a quarter (28%) of all cyber-attacks in the UK in the last 12 months**.

Cynozure’s research also exposes a lack of understanding of data in many financial institutions that may make them more vulnerable to attack, including around how it’s stored, managed, and used. One in five (21%) respondents say they don’t know where data is held in the organisation, a third (35%) say the data world is too complex to understand, and three in ten (31%) say there is a lack of data literacy in the business. 

A comprehensive data strategy and stringent data governance are vital tools in the broader armory of defense against data breaches, but even the most conscientious firms may not be completely bulletproof. 


Educating employees about the importance of data, ensuring they are aware of the business’ overall data strategy, and who in the business is responsible for managing it, are all important steps to take to minimise the risk of human error in contributing to a breach.

Another way to mitigate the impact of a potential attack is to have a robust crisis management plan in place. An organisation looking to implement this should start by identifying potential scenarios, analysing the risk of each occurring, and calculating the consequences of it happening. This will differ from organisation to organisation, but a bank, for example, would likely class a leak of financial data and personally identifiable information as the most damaging.

Jason Foster, CEO and Founder of Cynozure, comments: “94% of organisations say that using data effectively is central to running a successful business, but we’ve seen many lack the strategy, literacy, controls, and vision to generate that success. In the financial services sector, data has the power to create better products and services, speed up response rates, drive slicker operations and support better management of risk. Good data management is at the heart of building trust, reducing the risk of breaches, and enabling innovation so it’s critical that steps are taken to ensure data is stored, managed, used, and protected correctly.”


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