Some stats and insights from iomart;
UK insurance firms experienced on average 34 cyber incidents over the last twelve months, 13% higher than the national average of UK businesses, according to a new report out today. Despite almost half (49%) of insurance companies spending more than £50,000 a year on cyber protection such as vulnerability assessments, penetration testing, and red team engagements, the report found that more than a third (35%) think their cyber security budget is inadequate to fully protect them from growing threats.
The data comes from iomart and Oxford Economics’ ‘State of cyber security in the UK 2023’ report, which surveyed 43 insurance executives, as part of a wider survey of 500 UK businesses. It found that 40% of businesses in the insurance sector agree that budget constraints continue to be one of the biggest barriers for improved cyber security, while 44% have seen an increased frequency of threats from bad actors over the past two years. With the cost of remediation and other business expenses, such as energy, on the rise, stretched budgets are causing blind spots in companies’ cyber strategies.
UK businesses overall
Of the 500 businesses surveyed, only 37% have security embedded into all their business processes and functions, while 14% admitted that security is only addressed on an ad hoc or as-needed basis. Meanwhile during the COVID-19 pandemic, 41% of UK organisations were forced to sacrifice cyber security to keep the lights on, including 38% of insurance firms.
The report also found that a lack of key skills remains one of the main concerns to tackling rising cyber threats. So much so that 30% of cyber staff across UK businesses admit to currently facing burnout. This pressure also means that less than half of companies are confident in their ability to handle the biggest threats facing organisations, including phishing (56%) and malware (55%).
Despite these challenges, the insurance sector is optimistic about the role of nascent technologies such as AI and ML. Just under half (44%) believe the use of AI and ML will be a major trend in cyber security over the next two years, particularly to support with email screening (86%) and contextual analytics (70%).
Commenting on the report, Lucy Dimes, CEO of iomart said: “Our latest security report with Oxford Economics is a temperature check on the cyber challenges businesses face, including those in the insurance sector. As a highly regulated industry that holds significant amounts of both consumer and business data, the sector has become a key target for cyber criminals. While it is clear that the threat of cybercrime remains high, there’s a lack of confidence in organisations’ abilities to protect themselves against it.
“There are many factors at play that are influencing this, from rising energy costs to skills shortages and staff burnout, which are causing huge challenges for businesses. While this may be the case, there are ways to relieve these pressures, with effective strategies being developed and new technologies such as AI being embraced. Working alongside trusted partners can also ensure companies have adequate cyber strategies tailored to their business needs and challenges.”
The ‘State of cyber security in the UK 2023’ report surveyed 500 executives from a range of industries — most with more than 1,000 employees — all based in the UK.
To find out more, you can view the full report online here: Security’s Lament: The state of cyber security in the UK | iomart