According to the 2024 CFO/Controller Sentiment Study, investing in cybersecurity technology is a top priority for financial professionals in the new year. For years, CFOs and their cybersecurity counterparts, chief information security officers (CISOs), have relied on a “You stay in your lane, I’ll stay in mine” approach. 

However, the 2024 business landscape is rife with cybersecurity threats. To protect your business, you must embrace your role as both a guardian of fiscal health and a steward of data integrity. 

Join us as we explore the intersection of cybersecurity and the responsibilities of CFOs and controllers. 

Recognizing the Stakes

The digitization of financial operations has brought about unprecedented efficiency and scalability. However, it has also exposed companies to new vulnerabilities, putting cybersecurity at the top of the agenda for every CFO and controller. Cyberattacks targeting economic information may lead to huge monetary losses, regulatory penalties, and reputational damage. 

The stakes are sky-high when it comes to cybersecurity threats. Since dollars and cents represent the preferred language of CFOs, let’s take a look at the economic implications of a data breach. On average, a single data breach cost $4.35 million in 2022. The financial industry had the highest average breach expenses, with a breach costing almost $6 million on average. 

Establishing a Culture of Cybersecurity Awareness

There’s no denying that the implications of a data breach are severe and far-reaching. The question is, what should CFOs and controllers do to mitigate the risks of a cyberattack? For starters, you should create a culture of awareness throughout the organization, especially among your finance team. 

Fiscal professionals deal with some of the company’s most sensitive data. Therefore, you should champion training programs that educate your staff on the importance of cybersecurity, common threats, and best practices for safeguarding data. Regular updates and drills will help keep cybersecurity at the forefront of everyone’s mind and prepare the team for potential breaches. 

CFO and CISO Collaboration: An Essential Partnership

As a fiscal leader, you must work closely with IT and cybersecurity teams to gain a comprehensive understanding of the organization’s cyber risk profile. Schedule a meeting with the CISO and discuss what resources are available to bolster the company’s cybersecurity posture. This collaboration enables you to make informed decisions about where to invest in cybersecurity measures. 

Additionally, schedule regular briefings on the current threat landscape, as well as reviews of the business’ cybersecurity policies and incident response plans. Ensure that other business leaders are informed and prepared to act swiftly in the event of a breach. 

Integrating Cybersecurity Into Financial Planning

You’re uniquely positioned to ensure that cybersecurity measures receive adequate funding. When integrating cybersecurity investments into your organization’s financial planning and budgeting processes, you should allocate resources toward critical areas such as secure accounting systems, data encryption, and disaster recovery. 

A proactive approach fortifies the organization’s defenses and demonstrates to stakeholders that you take cybersecurity seriously. 

Leveraging Tech for Enhanced Security

Human error is your organization’s greatest vulnerability. Antiquated, disjointed technology ecosystems are perhaps the second most glaring weakness. As part of your efforts to mitigate risks and protect your business, you should advocate for the adoption of advanced tools, including:

Alone, each of these technologies will moderately reduce your risk profile. Together, they will significantly reduce the risk of unauthorized access and data breaches, providing an additional layer of security around sensitive financial information. 

That said, even the best preventive measures aren’t foolproof. As such, you must also ensure a response and recovery strategy is in place. While this responsibility falls primarily on the CISO, you should do your part to increase the company’s resilience in the event of a successful attack. 

Ensuring Compliance With Regulatory Requirements

Bolstering your cybersecurity posture isn’t just about preventing attacks. It is also a critical part of compliance, especially if your organization operates in a tightly regulated industry like healthcare or finance. You must ensure that your organization complies with relevant cybersecurity regulations and standards. This involves staying apprised of the latest changes and implementing compliance measures to protect customer data.

The rise of consumer data privacy laws has further complicated matters. Frameworks like the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) hold your organization accountable for protecting consumer privacy. Failing to follow applicable laws will result in harsh penalties and lasting reputational damage. 

Insulating Your Business From Digital Threats in 2024

The new year is full of exciting possibilities and challenges. As you embrace these opportunities to drive your business forward, make sure that you remain cognizant of the ever-looming digital threats on the horizon. As a leader within the company, you have the power to place cybersecurity at the forefront of your fiscal strategy and mitigate the risks of cyber threats.

Additional Resources

Managing Cybersecurity: Why Controllers and CISOs Must Collaborate

Why Cybersecurity Is Important to Finance

A Controller’s Guide to Cybersecurity

Eight Tips to Reduce Fraud in Financial Reporting

From Knowing Why to Knowing How: A Controller’s Look at Cybersecurity