- Nearly half of C-suite and other top executives expect the frequency of cyber attacks targeting their organizations’ accounting and financial data to increase in 2023, according to a new Deloitte Center for Controllership poll.
- Despite this though, only around 20% of those polled say their organizations’ accounting and finance teams work closely and consistently with their cybersecurity teams or their companies’ chief information officers.
- “One of the absolute key relationships within an organization is between the CIO and the CFO because the mission of the CIO is to make sure that the organization is running not only efficiently, but effectively, and that's the same thing the CFO is concerned about,” Russ Porter, CFO of the Institute of Management Accountants, said in an interview.
Almost 43% of the 1,100 C-suite and other top level executives polled say their organizations’ finance and cyber teams only work together as needed “with inconsistent closeness and consistency,” while 11.1% do not work together at all, according to the poll.
Meanwhile, CFOs may be putting IT spend on the back burner in the face of unfavorable economic headwinds. Where only 14% of CFOs will prioritize IT infrastructure in 2023, cost management (52%), financial performance (50%) and growth (38%) are their top priorities, according to Deloitte’s most recent CFO Signals report.
“As always, CFOs are tasked with optimizing spend, and preparing for a number of different potential scenarios,” Porter said. “I wonder if CFOs are looking at potentially deferring adoption of new technologies in favor of keeping up and refreshing the tech stacks,” he said.
However, the lack of focus here could come back to bite finance chiefs. During the past 12 months, 34.5% of polled C-suite execs said their organizations’ accounting and financial data was targeted by cyber adversaries. Of that group, 22% experienced at least one said cyber event and 12.5% experienced multiple attacks, the poll said.
“I would not be surprised to hear that some CFOs are evaluating what I'll refer to as maintenance of their existing tech stack versus enhancements to their technology environment,” Porter said.
These enhancements can take place in the form of adding new capabilities to teams or investing in pursuing new opportunities, according to the finance chief, who also spent three decades at IBM.
“CFOs are designed to manage risk, not to manage risk to zero, but to manage risk of action versus what's the risk of not taking action? And larger companies are going to make different decisions about ‘how much do I invest in preventive measures, versus what's it going to cost me if I am impacted by a cybersecurity event?’” Porter said.
As the scope of the CFO’s responsibilities have widened in recent years, Porter stressed how a strong and reliable relationship between a CFO and a CIO is essential in optimizing tech spend for the year ahead.
When deciding on whether or not to spend big on preventative measures versus reactive measures, the CFO will have to ask themselves a lot of questions.
“What's the form of that event going to take? What's the exposure potential to my company and my clients, my customers?” Porter said. Additionally, CFOs are going to be making largely appropriate risk balancing decisions about how exhaustive cybersecurity measures need to be.
“It's not about cost minimization, it's about cost optimization. And that's one of the areas where CIOs and CFOs can absolutely partner to make sure that the company is making good decisions about how it's deploying technology to maximize the value to the employees and the clients,” Porter said.
This story has been corrected to show that nearly half of respondents say their organizations’ finance and cyber teams only work together as needed “with inconsistent closeness and consistency."
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