Sponsored content: Mark Shepherd, head of general insurance policy at the ABI, outlines his learnings after launching a cyber safety tool for SMEs.

This might sound strange, but there are lessons we can take from epidemiology about how we might tackle the growing cyber crime epidemic.

Mark Shepherd ABI

Mark Shepherd

We all wash our hands to prevent the spread of germs. It comes naturally to us as a precaution.

We are taught the importance of it from a young age, given that good basic hygiene is crucial in containing the spread of potential viruses or bacteria.

Now, cyber criminals aren’t germs, but their successful stings on businesses do encourage further activity. So, in a way, if we can halt their progress, we can dampen the proliferation of the crime.

And just like handwashing, more than 80% of cyber crimes can be prevented through simple cyber hygiene.

Of course insurance is important. But if we can cater to the cause and the symptoms together, it’s more effective for everyone.

Plus, we know that some major systemic cyber attacks wouldn’t be covered, so prevention remains crucial.

Providing the tools

In September, the ABI launched a free interactive tool to help SMEs assess their cyber security exposure and plug any identified gaps.

The new tool is easily found by searching ‘ABI cyber tool’. Since we launched, we’ve had hundreds of businesses take the test and, through analysis of their answers, we’ve uncovered the five most common cyber shortcomings:

1. Bosses lack control over remote devices. It’s important that if you need to, you can locate, control and wipe a device remotely. This can be enabled through simple and free-to-download apps, so it’s easy to make so.

2. Businesses don’t kick the tyres on their disaster recovery plans. Even if businesses do have a plan for a cyber incident, they often don’t keep it up to date or test it. Yet there are free government exercises you can complete to do so.

3. They don’t talk about cyber. Not that it’s taboo, but you can’t assume your employees are up to speed on cyber crime trends. There’s free training from the National Cyber Security Centre that you can run regularly to keep your teams vigilant to the latest threats.

4. Loose protocols on access. Who has access to what levels of software and data is not a decision to be made lightly. This applies to past employees as much as it does to current staff.

5. Weak IP. I don’t mean intellectual property here, but Internet Protocol address, which can provide a way in for cyber criminals if it has undiscovered vulnerabilities. Yet there are free online tools to test the address and fix any issues.

We understand that when it comes to cyber risk, SMEs value their broker’s expertise and advice, which is why we’re willing to create branded versions of our cyber tool for any broker keen to use it – while stocks last of course!

Drop us a line at digitalteam@abi.org.uk to explore your options.

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