Boost Cybersecurity Amid Economic Turbulence

by Johan Gerber, Executive Vice President, Security & Cyber Innovation, Mastercard

The key to protecting trust in our increasingly digitized world is effective cybersecurity. A clear indication of its importance today is that we’re now seeing cyber above geopolitics and economic challenges as a leading risk area for merchants, fintechs, financial institutions (FIs), and other key players in the market.

A contributor to this is that criminals are getting smarter and continue to exploit new technologies. The result is building pressure on organizations across all markets and segments to protect their systems from risks that are growing in sophistication and impact.

This growth is clear from the numbers: The average global cost of a data breach in 2023 reached a staggering US$4.45 million, a 15% increase over a three-year period. This cost includes the expense of losing customers and acquiring new ones and the financial implications of reputational damage and diminished goodwill.

Added to this is the fact that, as part of our own research, we revealed that 98% of consumers are concerned about the current level of cybercrime, demonstrating the uphill battle businesses now face to tackle the public trust issue.

This means that it has become a threat that all organizations, regardless of size can no longer ignore. Ransomware attacks still dominate the landscape with the average demand in 2023 being US$1.6 million, up 74% in the past year. After peaking in 2021, we’re still seeing in the region of 500 million attacks a year.

Cybersecurity: A Growing Challenge All of Us  

The challenge doesn’t just fall to organizations but also on ourselves as a world-leading, global technology company. This challenges us in new ways too. In an era where global economic shocks provide additional obstacles to resourcing cyber protection, it motivates us to innovate faster to secure the future for our customers and our network.

Firstly, we are accelerating the pace of innovation by constantly investing in expanding cybersecurity capabilities, enabling us to simplify the link between convenience and security for businesses.

This is achieved by harnessing best-in-class technology, such as artificial intelligence (AI), or quantum computing, and by supercharging cyber solutions and enhancing capabilities that drive faster, smarter, and more effective protection for all.

How does this work in reality? The first example is through cutting-edge AI technology that not only informs organizations of their cyber vulnerabilities – and the risks existing within their supply chains – but also warns them of any threats coming down the road. Threat protection solutions set traps to stop unwanted bots from getting any closer, all with minimal human intervention.

These initiatives are helping businesses build trust with the public: one company required help in identifying which of its vendors had weak cybersecurity. By tapping into our joined-up threat intelligence tools the business could see the real-time network changes affecting its vendors and could take instant action to protect its networks – resulting in a 50% reduction in its cyber risk.

Secondly, we are learning and understanding more about the ever-evolving priorities of business leaders. Thanks to our recent research, commissioned by Mastercard and carried out by Datos, we know that rising cyber risk combined with more effective tech-powered solutions is encouraging organizations to invest.

This reinforces our view that economic uncertainty doesn’t mean compromising on cybersecurity. In fact, quite the opposite. cybersecurity budgets are actually increasing – more than half of financial institutions increased their budget between 5-10% in 2022 vs. 2021, a trend expected to continue in 2023 and 2024.

With that said, however, cyber investment is only as valuable as the expertise and knowledge behind it, and quantifying the value and return on investment is particularly critical in challenging economic times. This remains a vital challenge for businesses, and our research shows they acknowledge the need for outside support.

A strong majority (84%) of cybersecurity leaders stated they’d benefit from third-party assistance in deploying AI-powered solutions, navigating digital identity, API security, and knowing which cyber threats are next on the horizon.

Innovation to Solve Challenges and Maintain Trust in Cybersecurity

The research helps shape our direction and the findings motivate us to move in smarter, as well as faster, ways. For example, AI is being deployed at a greater scale. It is driving productivity benefits across the globe and this futuristic technology isn’t just something we tap into to enrich individual experiences. It also helps to solve some of society’s most pressing challenges and most of all keep people safe.

Just look at cryptocurrencies. There is estimated to be four times more fraud in crypto than in regular fiat payments. So, we’re devising new innovations to stay ahead. Crypto secure solutions help organizations to make informed decisions that protect their business, as well as the entire payments ecosystem, by providing visibility of crypto spend, transaction volumes, and an anti-money laundering risk rating exposure.

It is only through innovative solutions like these, that banks and other organizations can earn and, importantly, keep the trust of their customers on whom their business depends. We know that trust is fragile. It can be broken in a nanosecond and take years to repair, and sometimes it can’t ever be earned back.

As the global financial ecosystem expands, it’s getting harder for organizations to navigate the maze of cyber risks on their own. This is why we’re forging ahead to give businesses, merchants, FIs, and fintechs the trailblazing tools and expert knowledge they need to understand the risks they’re facing.

Through relentless innovation, we’re empowering them with the resources to assess, protect, and organize against today’s attacks, as well as anticipate those of tomorrow.

Rapid Resilience: The Key to Responding to New Threats

Today, technology is advancing at pace and our society is becoming increasingly more connected. This means that there will be new threats that will require rapid responses and unprecedented levels of business resilience. But help is at hand; there are exciting new opportunities for us to push the pace of development even further and deliver innovation with lightning speed.

However, in our mission to outpace cyber threats, we must ensure trust remains central to our efforts to make payments seamless and secure and is not an afterthought. Maintaining this balance is vital to securing the connections that power our digital world.

Media Disclaimer: This report is based on internal and external research obtained through various means. The information provided is for reference purposes only, and users bear full responsibility for their reliance on it. The Cyber Express assumes no liability for the accuracy or consequences of using this information.

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