Cyber security specialists in high demand
John McAfee was the founder of the first commercial anti-virus software product in the 1980s, yet in December, McAfee’s Twitter account and mobile phone were hacked; proof that no one individual or business can consider themselves immune to the attentions of cyber hackers.
With businesses such as Yahoo, Uber, and Equifax all falling victim to major hacks, together with governmental organisations like the NHS, 2017 was a bad year for keeping computer systems safe from criminal attacks. The latest Hiscox Cyber Readiness Report reveals the scale of the problem with almost half (45%) of the 4,100 businesses surveyed across the UK, Europe and the US hit by a cyber attack at least once in the past year, with the average annual costs of dealing with attacks exceeding well over £150,000. In the UK, the costs for small businesses of less than 250 employees averaged nearly £25,000, while for larger businesses of more than 1,000 employees the costs ballooned to over £400,000.
Defence is the best form of attack
Many businesses – large and small – have responded to the growing cyber threat by investing heavily in their IT defences. According to the Hiscox report, businesses on average now spend over 10% of their annual IT budgets on cyber security measures. For IT specialists, it points to a growing opportunity in cyber security.
Expectations of an IT recruitment boom are reinforced by Hiscox’s findings that a quarter of businesses are intending to increase their cyber staffing for the year, while 25% also expect to employ more security consultants and third-party services. More than a third (36%) say a top priority over the next 12 months is likely to be the hiring of an information security specialist such as a white hat hacker, while working with developers to embed security in the software cycle will be a key security initiative for 40% of businesses.
Cyber insurance on the increase
In addition to getting cyber defences in place, one additional solution being implemented by many businesses is the purchase of cyber insurance to protect against financial loss from a hack. The cover is just as relevant for very small businesses, sole traders and IT specialists who could, for example, be holding or processing sensitive data on behalf of their client – the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation in May will introduce further potential penalties for data processors. Given hackers are also particularly aware of the vulnerability that many big businesses have to breaches suffered by their smaller suppliers – the breach of US retailer Target was a good example – cyber insurance can add a vital layer of protection.
Later this year, customers who purchase Hiscox Cyber and Data Insurance will also receive access to the Hiscox CyberClear® Academy – a GCHQ certified, web-based training platform that can assist in the prevention of network, cyber and privacy issues.
With Hiscox’s cyber report revealing that 58% of all businesses surveyed have cyber insurance cover (33%) or are intending to buy cover over the next 12 months (25%), can any business, no matter how small, afford to remain uninsured when it comes to the cyber risk?