With cyberattacks on the rise, our pensions industry must be ever more vigilant #techUKSmarterState

11th October 2022

Chris Jones elaborates on why the pensions sector needs to be more vigilant

Cybercrime isn’t anything new. Everywhere you turn, whether it’s an attack on the NHS, MoD, or your personal credit card, we’re all exposed to it. But what if you woke up one morning to find out your pension, that hard-earned money that will see you through your retirement, had been involved in a major cyber-attack?

The pensions administration is complex, highly specialised, and vitally important to the 20 million UK citizens who rely on it. At Civica, we believe that data accuracy, automation, and emerging technologies are key to its future, so we’re constantly exploring opportunities to strengthen our capabilities.

To better understand the potential threats and impacts the pension world face, we conducted a survey with Professional Pensions, involving trustees, pension scheme administrators and managers. Our aim was to discover whether the wider industry see the need for a transformative change and leveraging digital technologies, creating a positive impact for scheme members.

Cost vs security? Is it a binary choice?

Most public sector pension trustees and administrators consider ‘robust cybersecurity’ as the biggest driver when considering a new software provider. However, our survey showed that most weren’t entirely satisfied with their current software’s security. Despite this, the majority only run a fully competitive tender process on an ad hock basis, most recently before 2017.

Sticking with your existing pensions administration software (and its limitations) might seem like the safest, least disruptive option. But the change in the short term, including the cost associated with procurement, can deliver far-reaching benefits in the longer term. Enhanced services, reduced costs and - ultimately - a membership which feels more satisfied, safe, and empowered to make decisions shaping its future.

It's never been easier to take advantage of powerful technologies to transform administration and offer an automated solution. Smart, tailored software solutions allow funds to empower members through an expanded range of digital services, whilst safeguarding your organisation and reducing the risk of fraud with accurate, automated checks. This is exactly what Southwark Council decided to do over a 12-month timeframe. The Council said: "The new Civica platform will give us all the tools to provide a much-improved service to our members, employers and stakeholders such as the Local Pensions Board. The platform will help future-proof our digital systems and we'll also benefit from longer-term cost savings of around 40% in cloud deployment and support".

How many pension providers can verify their members' identities online?

Citizens want more access and control over their pensions via secure member portals. Yet according to our survey, only 39% of providers can verify their members' identity online. So why aren’t providers stepping up? Cybercrime will always be a challenge, and the risk of pension fraud has never been greater. But as the risks grow, so too do the means to tackle them. With continuing advances in cyber-security, there are powerful techniques to mitigate against identity, existence, and insider fraud.

Our Secure ID & Verification functionality is designed to keep processes streamlined, efficient and safe. We’ve replaced the need for paper-based evidence – reducing costs, saving time, and providing an overall better member experience. With data-driven automation, our members rest assured their hard-earned pensions are protected.

Future-proofing: using data safely and securely

Expectations are changing and technology is rapidly developing, but security and privacy always remain a top priority. It was clear from our results that the threat of cybercrime is high in pensions. Action is needed. And now is the perfect time to evaluate the technology being used to manage pension schemes. Civica continues to take advantage of advances in cyber-security to develop cutting-edge, sophisticated document checks and services that allow funds to assure members that trustworthy security controls are in place – guaranteeing the protection of pension transactions.

Civica provides pensions administration software and consultancy services across the public sector including 44% of Local Government Pension Scheme members in England and Wales. Its latest contracts with Southwark Council and Local Pensions Partnership Administration build on strong momentum and growth in the sector. Civica's new inspiring content series Perspectives*  delves into the world of chatbots, and how they provide real value for public services, maximising a scheme's investment. Get in touch for more information.