The fourth Hiscox Cyber Readiness Report reports that six per cent of the 5,569 firms polled, and one in six of those attacked, had surrendered by paying out ransom fees following a cyber attack. 

The highest losses for a single firm targeted with a ransom demand hit £40.2 million. The report also showed that total cyber losses surged 50 per cent to nearly £1.4 billion in 2019.

Hiscox warned there were new cyber threats emerging from the coronavirus crisis, with a ramp-up in so-called phishing scams and as staff and companies are leaving themselves vulnerable due to less-secure home working computers.

The Report surveyed a representative sample of private and public sector organisations in the US, UK, Ireland, Belgium, France, Germany, Spain, and the Netherlands. Each firm was assessed on its cyber security strategy and execution.

The Report says that UK businesses are now 15 times more likely to suffer a hacking incident rather than a fire or theft with one firm paying out £71 million.

Among the key findings:

  • Cyber losses soar: Total cyber losses among the study group rose from $1.2 billion to nearly $1.8 billion. The highest reported cyber losses were by a UK financial services firm, at $87.9 million. The highest loss from any one cyber event was $15.8 million, involving a UK professional services firm. The most heavily targeted sectors were financial services, manufacturing and technology, media and telecoms (TMT). Irish firms suffered the highest median costs, at over $103,000.
  • Held to ransom: More than 6% of total respondents, or one in six of those attacked, paid a ransom following a malware attack. The highest losses reported by any single company targeted with ransomware, and which could include other cyber events, topped $50 million.
  • Upping their game: The number of firms achieving ‘expert’ status in our cyber readiness model increased from 10% to 18%. This follows two years while progress stalled. US and Irish firms came out best with 24% ranked as experts.  France was the biggest improver with 18% of firms ranked as experts, up from 6%. Overall, twice as many firms responded to a breach this year by adding new security and spending more on employee training.
  • Pace of cyber spending accelerates: The average spend on cyber security rose from $1.47 million to $2.05 million, a rise of 39%. French firms spent the most with an average of $3.1 million. Spanish and US firms were not far behind, at $2.6 million and $2.4 million respectively. The average spending by British business rose from just under $900,000 to $1.5 million.

Currently cyber losses per firm have risen nearly six-fold, from an average of £8,041 a firm to £45,832. UK firms are now 15 times more likely to suffer a cyber-attack than a fire or theft, the report suggests.

The biggest reported cyber loss among firms in the eight countries surveyed was suffered by a UK financial services firm, at £71 million. The report also uncovered that the highest loss from any one cyber event was £12.7 million, involving a UK professional services firm.

While cyber attack losses rose last year, the Hiscox report that firms are increasing their defences against hackers, with spending on cyber security rising 39 per cent. “The number of businesses that have paid a ransom following a malware infection is chilling… There is, however, one very positive message from this year’s report – there is clear evidence of a step-change in cyber preparedness, with enhanced levels of activity and spending’  the Hiscox Cyber chief executive commented

Hiscox also warned there were new cyber threats emerging from the coronavirus crisis, with a ramp-up in phishing scams and as staff and companies are leaving themselves vulnerable due to less-secure home working computers. “There is clear evidence of a step-change in cyber preparedness, with enhanced levels of activity and spending. Take-up of standalone cyber insurance remains patchy, but this report is a reminder that firms are many times more likely to have a cyber incident than either a fire or a theft for which most automatically insure,” said a Hiscox spekesman.

Source: Cyber Security Intelligence