Ransomware continues to shape the cyber risk landscape, explained Dwic roundtable panellists

Ransomware and business email compromise continue to shape the cyber risk landscape, dominating headlines and driving up the cost of claims.

This is according to panellists speaking at the Cyber: Dangers of constantly evolving cyber risk roundtable, held on the first day of the Dubai World Insurance Congress (Dwic) in March 2022.

The cyber market has hardened considerably, with panellists noting that carriers and cyber reinsurers are pulling back capacity and increasingly deploying analytics to better understand the threat, its aggregate potential and how it may impact balance sheets.

Learning from losses

But the rigorous underwriting process means that insureds who take out cyber cover are among those least likely to be attacked, according to Alex Jomaa, cyber underwriter at Tokio Marine Kiln Group.

Zainab Khatib, vice-president of Lockton Middle East North Africa (MENA), said the procurement process was a good way of working with customers to see where they may have areas of vulnerability that need to be strengthened.

One area where the insurance industry can improve is through collaboration and sharing of information. For a burgeoning and ever-evolving market like cyber, this is essential if it is to realise its full potential.

Cyber hygiene

It is not enough to just have robust cyber security – ongoing monitoring of systems is essential, added Jarrett Kolthoff, chief executive of SpearTip.

The basics of good cyber hygiene – including two factor authentication and controlling who has access to what information and systems within the organisation – are must-haves.

This reduces the potential for human error, deliberate insider threats and makes insureds less likely to fall prey to cyber criminals, who are picking off the “low-hanging fruit”.

Inevitably, the question arose around the ethics of paying ransoms to criminal gangs and whether cyber insurers were complicit in encouraging the growth of the threat.

Panellists explained that ransoms were only ever paid as a last resort and upon the advice of lawyers.

The rise of double extortion ransomware and the general lack of coding expertise among hackers means there is no guarantee that large, complex datasets will be fully restored, even when ransoms are paid.

“The aim is to recover without paying all costs,” said Kolthoff.