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Report Highlights Security Risks When Using SMS and Email

Nivo, the Manchester-based instant messaging and identity verification platform, has published a research report which highlights the security risks of financial firms using email and SMS for customer communications.

Written by Martin Hill-Wilson, who is recognised as a thought leader in Customer Experience, the report identifies email and SMS as messaging platforms popular with customers, yet easy touch points for identity theft and fraud. UK fraud losses totalled £844.8 million in 2018, an increase of 16% compared to 2017 according to data collated from members of UK Finance. 

Financial firms are required to capture customer data and verify identities in order to comply with Know Your Customer (KYC) regulations, while at the same time customers are increasingly demanding paperless, mobile communications. In many cases this conflicts with security measures in place at financial firms, as they combat the growing threats of identity fraud and cyber crime.

According to the 2018 Cyber Security Breaches Survey, 43 per cent of businesses in the UK reported cyber security breaches or attacks.

UK fraud losses totalled £844.8 million in 2018, an increase of 16% compared to 2017

The report includes examples of how email and SMS can be compromised. Often specialist software is used to mimic genuine messages, altering the sender ID on a message to become the same as that of a financial brand. The software can even insert a phishing text within a genuine existing message thread from a bank on the customer’s phone, to appear authentic. 

Channels such as WhatsApp offer encryption to keep data private, but are not reliable for identity purposes, can often be compromised with access to an email account, and carry data privacy risks at a time when GDPR is front of mind.

“ID theft is a significant and growing issue for financial firms globally and managing that risk can become time-consuming and expensive as firms comply with KYC and combat fraud,” said Mike Common, CEO at Nivo. “All financial firms need to ensure regulatory compliance and have secure communication channels, whilst at the same time increasing back office efficiency and providing high levels of customer service via mobile.”

He added, “The industry is looking for a solution which offers secure, efficient and paperless communication, improving customer service whilst significantly cutting the time taken to onboard customers and reduce dropout rates.”

The report’s author, Martin Hill-Wilson, is a regular chair at customer service conferences, keynote speaker and provider of masterclasses on topics ranging from service strategy, omni-channel design, conversational Artificial Intelligence, emotive customer experience and service innovation.

Nivo’s report stresses that fraud also significantly impacts customer loyalty and retention, stating that 40% of customers affected by fraud would blame the financial brand.  


  • Editorial Director of the The Fintech Times

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