Cyber attacks are the leading fear for IT bosses in financial and public services

Online attacks from cyber criminals are now the most feared technology threat from bosses in the financial and public sectors for 2018.

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The financial services industry and public sector are aligned in their concerns about data and system security, with both citing a fear of harmful cyber threats emerging in 2018,

The research, conducted among senior IT managers working across public sector and financial organisations, found that 79 per cent of those in the public sector, and 85 per cent in the financial services sector, consider data and systems security to be their biggest priority.

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Both groups also said that the most notable impact of high profile cyber attacks hitting the headlines was greater scrutiny on existing systems.

When asked how well equipped their organisation is to defend itself against cyber attacks, the financial sector showed greater confidence, with 94 per cent saying they had a strong line of defence, compared to 88 per cent in the public sector.

The findings come after a year in which a number of high profile public and private organisations suffered online attacks, including the NHS.

The research was carried out by digital workplace provider Invotra.

Its chief executive Fintan Galvin said, “We commissioned this research to understand digital challenges facing the financial and public sectors. Both sectors are under pressure to modernise systems, make them accessible, and to keep pace with emerging technologies; all the while tackling sophisticated security threats.

“These are real hurdles for IT professionals today so it’s no wonder they have concerns for the year ahead.”

Exploring respondent’s attitudes to digital transformation, 44 per cent public sector IT managers described digital transformation as ‘an important focus’, but said the public sector is way behind the private sector.

There was greater confidence and belief among financial services professionals, with a smaller proportion feeling financial services lags behind other sectors.

In the public sector, a larger proportion said digital transformation was ‘a buzzword’ and described it as ‘meaningless’, and a fifth said digital transformation was too costly compared to 13 per cent in the finance sector.

Mr Galvin added: “It’s clear from our study that finance technology professionals understand the need to drive change.

“But, they are charged with providing an accessible digital workplace with meaningful results in terms of improving people’s work lives, whilst facing sophisticated security threats.

“And, there is, of course, pressure to do more with less.

“Organisations need to wake up and realise that enhancing digital capabilities is about enabling people and not the sole responsibility of IT departments.

“This research highlights a need for widespread buy in, and understanding of digital workplace technologies across organisations, and for proper user training. Without this, transforming the internal and external customer experience, is going to prove impossible.”