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Danske Bank launches initiative to help SME customers with cyber security

Danske Bank launches initiative to support the cyber security efforts of its SME customers

Danske Bank has rolled out a Technical Support Initiative (TSI) to help its small to medium-sized enterprise (SME) customers in Denmark reinforce their IT systems and infrastructure defences against increasing cyber attacks.

The TSI is guided by a 12-month research project, conducted in-house by the bank, which revealed that around 27% of Danish SMEs had experienced cyber attacks in recent years. That number rises to 43% for companies employing 50 employees and over. The data collated for the cyber risk research project came from 900 SMEs operating in a range of business sectors in Denmark.

Worryingly, the research indicated that around a third of Danish firms do not have basic defence policies or infrastructure in place to protect their businesses against fraud-based attacks from cyber space.

The research underscored the need for a risk-based approach by SMEs to counter the threat of having to defend against the ever-increasing sophisticated types of next-generation cyber attacks. A growing number of these have the potential to immobilise a company’s core IT systems and cripple their business operations.

“A successful cyber attack can paralyse a business completely. This is why the senior management of every company, big or small, needs to focus on establishing a plan for how to handle cyber crime. We are working with customers to help them protect their operations against financial cyber crime,” said Niels Bang-Hansen, head of business banking Denmark at Danske.

Although 40% of Danish SMEs acknowledge the real and ever-present threat that cyber attacks pose to the operations and profitability of their businesses, 33% of all enterprises remain vulnerable to  rudimentary or sophisticated cyber attack against their IT systems and platforms. At a fundamental level, these SME firms tend to be most vulnerable and at risk as they lack even the most basic plan to protect their IT systems against cyber attacks.

“A successful cyber attack can paralyse a business completely. This is why the senior management of every company, big or small, needs to focus on establishing a plan for how to handle cyber crime”
Niels Bang-Hansen, Danske Bank

In Denmark, recent examples of cyber fraud involve criminals assuming the digital identities of CEOs to deceive the accounting departments of SMEs to transfer funds to external bank accounts or money collection points. At its most dangerous, this type of cyber fraud can result in the hacking of a CEO’s email which is then used to fabricate and direct a written fraudulent money transfer order to accounts.

In other cases, cyber criminals opt to purchase a domain name that is almost identical to the targeted company’s trading name. This category of cyber fraud usually coincides with the target company’s accounts department receiving a bogus notification advising of new bank information. This communication will normally contain an attached invoice from an existing and genuine supplier to that business. 

The TSI is one of a number of innovative technology solutions launched by Danske to support product and service platforms provided to SMEs, large corporates and the bank’s private customer base.

Danske is directing substantial investments to grow its artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) expertise and offerings. The bank is implementing a project to more widely employ AI and ML technologies to provide an enhanced level of prediction and resolution of IT issues.

A core part of Danske’s AI/ML initiative is the launch of a cognitive program developed by IBM. Danske is the first bank in Denmark to use IBM’s Predictive Insights AI tool on such a broad scale.

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