Accounts payable & data security: How to protect your business from cyber threats

In today's interconnected digital world, businesses rely heavily on efficient accounts payable solutions to manage their financial transactions seamlessly. However, with the convenience of online transactions comes the inherent risk of cyber threats lurking in the shadows. These potential threats encompass everything from phishing scams and invoice fraud to more sophisticated cyber-attacks aiming to breach financial data, necessitating a robust strategy that not only counters current threats but is also adaptable to the evolving tactics of cyber adversaries.

One of the foundational steps in securing accounts payable processes is the implementation of strong internal controls, which include segregation of duties, where responsibilities such as invoice creation, approval, and payment processing are distributed among different individuals to reduce the risk of fraud. In addition, regular audits and reconciliations are also recommended to ensure the integrity of accounts payable transactions, acting as a deterrent against both internal and external threats.

Another important step organisations can take to mitigate risks in accounts payable is training their employees, particularly for phishing scams, in which fraudsters impersonate legitimate vendors, tricking employees into sending payments to fraudulent accounts. Employees should be trained to identify suspicious email addresses, beware of unknown links or attachments, and verify invoice requests directly with the supplier. A well-informed team acts as the first line of defence when it comes to cybersecurity.

Organisations can also leverage digital technology to expand the perimeter of accounts payable security. By making cybersecurity measures, such as encryption, non-negotiable, they can ensure that even if data is intercepted, it remains indecipherable and useless to unauthorised parties.

In the context of accounts payable solutions, automation is another tool that plays a crucial role. While it streamlines processes and reduces human error, it also opens new avenues for cyber threats. Selecting accounts payable software designed with security in mind is hence indispensable. This means opting for solutions that offer end-to-end encryption, regular security updates, compliance with international data protection regulations and integration of artificial intelligence. Integrating AI can enhance anomaly detection, identifying unusual payment requests or discrepancies in invoices that could indicate fraudulent activity.

Beyond these basics, organisations can also adopt the following strategies to enhance their accounts payable security:

  • Implement multi-factor authentication: MFA requires users to verify their identity through multiple authentication factors, such as passwords and biometrics, before accessing accounts payable systems. This additional layer of security reduces the risk of unauthorised access by ensuring that only authorised personnel can initiate or approve transactions.
  • Secure payment methods: Utilise secure payment methods, such as electronic funds transfer (EFT) and encrypted payment portals, to minimise the risk of payment fraud and unauthorised access to financial transactions.
  • Conduct due diligence on vendors: Before engaging in financial transactions, verify the legitimacy of vendors and assess their security posture. Establishing trusted relationships with reputable vendors reduces the likelihood of falling victim to invoice fraud or other fraudulent activities orchestrated by malicious actors posing as legitimate business partners.
  • Update software regularly: Keep accounts payable software and systems up-to-date with the latest security patches and updates to address known vulnerabilities and mitigate the risk of exploitation by cyber attackers. By staying vigilant and proactive in applying software patches, businesses can minimise their exposure to security threats and enhance the overall security of their accounts payable infrastructure.
  • Comply with international data protection laws: The global nature of business today also brings into focus the importance of international data protection laws, such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in Europe. Compliance with such laws not only protects businesses from legal repercussions but also builds trust with clients and partners by demonstrating a commitment to data security.

Looking to the future, the role of blockchain technology in accounts payable security cannot be overstated. Blockchain offers a decentralised and immutable ledger, providing transparency and security to transactions that traditional systems struggle to match. Its adoption could revolutionise how transactions are processed, verified, and recorded, offering a new paradigm in mitigating risks in accounts payable. 

To encapsulate, securing accounts payable processes in the digital age requires a multi-faceted approach that integrates strong internal controls, cybersecurity measures, employee training, automation and compliance with international laws. By embracing these strategies, businesses can not only protect themselves from current cyber threats but also enhance their efficiency, transparency, and trustworthiness in the global marketplace.

How can Infosys BPM help?

Infosys BPM offers Accounts Payable On Cloud (APOC) services, providing businesses with cutting-edge accounts payable solutions that streamline financial operations and enhance data security. Our comprehensive approach leverages automation, analytics, and artificial intelligence to optimise the accounts payable process, reduce risks, and improve compliance. By partnering with Infosys BPM, organisations can secure their financial transactions against cyber threats while achieving operational efficiency and cost savings.

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