The dynamic between businesses and the cyber risks they should be preventing or mitigating is becoming increasingly complex.
A survey from The Travelers Companies Inc. found that cyber threats are the top worry for large and medium-sized businesses, especially in light of the COVID-19 pandemic where many more employees are working from home. But fewer of those same businesses took steps to mitigate cyber risks than in the previous year.
Underscoring the urgency, nearly 1 in 4 respondents – 22 percent – said their company was the victim of a cyber event, a result Travelers said was the highest since its survey began in 2014.
Out of the 1,200 business leaders participated in the national survey, less than half said their organization used hacker intrusion detection software. Approximately 47 percent said their company underwent a cyber risk assessment on their company, and 37 percent said they did a cyber risk assessment with their vendors.
Just 42 percent of respondents said they wrote a business continuity plan to help them respond to a cyber attack, Travelers said.
Those numbers may seem respectable on the surface, but Travelers noted that more business leaders said they took each of those precautions just 12 months ago.
Travelers said that the concerns seem to go back, at least in part, to worries about how COVID-19 is impacting businesses’ operations and workforces. One result pointing in that direction: Nearly 60 percent of employers said that at least 40 percent of their employees worked outside of the office, more than double the 26 percent reported last year.
These employers, and their insurers that cover cyber risks, have cause for concern. A recent Chubb survey, for example, found that a large number of Americans are ignoring work-from-home cyber risks. Travelers said that it is imperative to counter that trend.
“With more employees relying on their ability to connect with company systems from remote locations, and many consumers preferring online transactions in an age of social distancing, it’s more important than ever for companies to do all they can to mitigate exposure to cyber threats,” Tim Francis, Enterprise Cyber Lead at Travelers., said in prepared remarks.
Large and medium-sized businesses said that cyber threats were their top concern, even as broad economic uncertainty scored as the biggest worry for businesses overall. Healthcare, technology, nonprofit and public sector industries also ranked cyber threats as their top concern.
Here are some survey highlights:
- 52 percent said they worried some or a great deal about suffering a security breach.
- 50 percent expressed concerns about unauthorized access to their financial systems.
- 48 percent said employees putting company information at risk was a major concern.
- 47 percent worried about becoming a cyber extortion or ransomware victim.
- 47 percent ranked the theft of the company’s customer or client records as a significant worry.
- 47 percent said suffering a cyber event due to employees working remotely was a concern.
The full report is the 2020 Travelers Risk Index.