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Leading the charge against cyberattacks

Technology and the internet are vital to the daily running of almost every business, regardless of size or sector. But cyberattacks are an ever-looming threat to their existence, posing potentially devastating consequences. Here, Mark Armstrong, managing director of Chartered independent insurance broker Todd & Cue, explains why cyber liability insurance is vital, and why the company is partnering with IT specialists to prepare clients for computer-generated assaults.

Bought a coffee this morning? Sent an email? Sent data to the cloud?

Like it or not, almost every interaction you have as an individual or business relies on technology and cyberspace.

While the quantum leaps in computing and the internet in the last 30 years have transformed society, they have also opened up new areas of vulnerability for business owners and executives.

For in darker spaces of the internet lurk cyber attackers, shadowy figures working to digitally infiltrate businesses systems, networks and programmes, with the aim of accessing or changing key information, disrupting normal operations and holding users to financial ransom.

And at an estimated cost of £21 billion to the UK economy each year, cybersecurity is a hot topic.

But, says Mark Armstrong, managing director of Team Valley-based Chartered independent insurance broker Todd & Cue, too many businesses are still leaving themselves exposed.

Which is why it is vital, he believes, firms of all shapes and sizes create a two-pronged line of defence.

He says: “Whether you’re communicating with customers, collating data digitally or making payments through an online platform – there isn’t a business trading that doesn’t have some sort of digital presence that is at risk.

“Over the last two years, we’ve engaged with various specialists in the IT sector to discuss cybersecurity and cyber liability insurance to help us deliver a more beneficial service to customers.

“We’ve had a real proactive push on our part to increase business awareness surrounding the risks of cyberattacks and advise on the covers available.

“Historically, there was some reluctance among businesses to consider it an insurance-worthy issue – they often felt they had sufficient protection through their own IT systems – but we’re now seeing increased engagement, especially at executive level.”

And there’s good reason for that engagement; high-profile cyberattacks on a number of UK businesses and Government bodies in recent months saw the loss of personal and financial data, as well as major disruption to operations.

Reputations, as well as bank balances, have taken a hit. And the statistics are worrying.

Some 46 per cent of UK businesses have been subjected to an attack in the last 12 months.

Even more worrying, though, is that just 15 per cent of businesses have a formal cybersecurity continuity plan in place.

Mark adds: “Attacks are commonplace, but there are still big differences in how businesses manage the risk and the level of continuity planning in place after an attack.

“We are definitely seeing a proactive approach from IT service providers, who are working closely with their clients to actively protect against the threat of cyberattacks.

“There is also a very evident increase in the number of businesses seeking to ascertain Cyber Essentials Plus certification.

“What that means from an insurance perspective, and for us as brokers, is that we can demonstrate to insurance markets that our clients are taking cybersecurity seriously and have been proactive in their approach to managing the risk.

“It’s a challenging time in the insurance market with regard to the placement of cyber liability insurance.

“Pricing can be quite volatile, driven primarily by a significant increase in claims numbers.”

Cybersecurity, and the need for cyber liability insurance, applies to every business, from sole traders to plcs.

And as part of its push to educate and inform clients of the risks, Todd & Cue has collaborated with IT partners in offering workshops to customers, designed to run potential attack scenarios and advise on how best to protect against those.

Mark adds: “Cyber liability insurance as a product is somewhat unique in terms of insurance – brokers work to identify risks relevant to a particular business and all businesses require different types of cover.

“But cyber liability is universal – there is no business trading that shouldn’t consider cyber as a risk to their operations.

“We are continually reviewing the marketplace and covers available, as some markets are enhancing their offering more quickly than others, and we constantly seek to provide value-added service as part of any insurance product.

“Our role is to best understand the processes and systems our clients have in place to protect their business.

“Should an attack breach the defences, then through our broking of the insurance covers, those clients have the safety net of an insurance policy to provide proper recompense for any loss or disruption to operations.”

For more information about Todd & Cue, and how its support could help your business bolster its online security, call 0191 482 0050 or email [email protected]