James Doswell, senior risk management consultant at Travelers Europe, explains how confidential data is the target for malware attacks and how threat actors will attempt to access this data to allow them to steal information or apply extortion

For a growing number of organisations, a cyber attack isn’t a singular event but a repeat challenge.

According to the Government’s Cyber Security Breaches Survey 2022, 39% of UK companies have reported cyber security breaches this year alone – and this figure is believed to be significantly deflated as smaller businesses tend not to report cyber attacks. Nearly one-third of these businesses say they have been attacked at least once a week.

In Ireland, government cyber security authorities have found that small and medium-size businesses have become frequent ransomware targets – and about 80% of the organisations that pay ransoms are attacked again.

The financial costs alone are significant – The National Cyber Security Centre said losses to fraud and cybercrime in the UK between April 2021 to 2022 totalled £3.1 billion.

Worryingly, only 19% of businesses reported having a formal incident response plan, leaving many organisations vulnerable to costly interruptions following an attack.

James Doswell Headshot 1

James Doswell, Travelers

Risk management

Travelers has access to a large amount of data from third party vendors, industry partners and our risks and claims teams.

Our growing team is dedicated to helping our clients manage these risks. As part of our strategy, we’re tracking how threats are evolving – both around the world and close to home – so we can alert clients to their exposures and provide case-specific counsel and protection.

The threats affect all parts of the economy – no industry stands out as more vulnerable or appealing to criminals than others. There are, however, patterns in the attacks themselves. Phishing remains a primary means of breaching organisations.

Of the 39% of UK businesses reporting a cyber attack in the past six months, 83% of the threats were phishing attempts (Cyber Security Breaches Survey 2022).

Last year, ransomware officially became the UK’s most significant cyber threat because of its potential to harm essential services or critical national infrastructure.

This year, double extortion attacks have become routine, forcing organisations to have to recover their stolen data and then pay to prevent it from being leaked.

Updated cyber security controls provide important prevention, but it is essential to realise that because of the broad nature of malware and threat actors, activity is constantly evolving.

No single security solution can provide overarching protection – and clients should be wary of any that profess to do so. Multi factor authentication (MFA) implemented correctly provides an excellent level of protection, but solutions such as filtering and endpoint defence are also incredibly important.

Organisations need multi-layered cyber security – one control isn’t enough.

Anticipating attacks

We partner with brokers to help secure the best outcomes for clients – both in minimising the risk of cyber attacks and – if one occurs – in providing support that helps limit business disruptions.

It’s important for brokers to have early discussions with us about their client requirements and ensure the organisation’s controls suit its specific functions. This helps us identify cyber security gaps that may exist due to the controls themselves or incorrect assumptions about the organisation’s needs.

Cyber threat actors are highly adaptive, but organisations can make themselves less-appealing targets. Brokers can help clients reduce their exposures by recommending good cyber security practices and ongoing staff training, as well as asking their insurer for support.

To find out more about Travelers’ cyber offering, visit www.travelers.co.uk/cyber

James Doswell is a senior risk management consultant at Travelers Europe, where he specialises in cyber risk control for clients in the UK and Ireland. Throughout his 25-year career in IT and insurance, Doswell has helped transform organisations’ technology, achieving robust, secure IT environments and has helped test and enhance the software used to protect critical national infrastructure from ransomware and cyber attacks.