Why corporate confidence in cyber protection contrasts with increased attack levels

Published: Wednesday, 07 June 2017 07:37

Findings from Willis Towers Watson's Cyber Pulse Survey give responses from organizations and their employees on cyber security practices across the United States and United Kingdom.

The survey found that a majority of companies feel that they are adequately prepared for cyberattacks on their organizations, despite the frequency and breadth of impact of cyberattacks across industries in recent years seemingly indicating the contrary.

The survey found that the disparity between corporate feelings of preparedness and the increasing number of cybersecurity incidents could be a result of lack of responsibility or accountability among employees, the human element of the cyber equation.

UK employees ranked "insufficient understanding" (61 percent) as the biggest barrier to their organization effectively managing its cyber risk. Nearly half (46 percent) spent 30 minutes or less on cybersecurity training in 2016, and over a quarter (27 percent) received none at all.

More concerning for employers is the discovery that, of the employees that did complete cyber training, nearly two-thirds (62 percent) admitted they "only completed the training because it was required", and nearly half (44 percent) believe that "opening any email on their work computer is safe", suggesting that the employees may not be engaged or feel the personal accountability necessary to drive long-term, sustainable behaviours.

Anthony Dagostino, Head of Global Cyber Risk, Willis Towers Watson, said: "As the world has seen with the proliferation of phishing scams, most recently highlighted by the global WannaCry ransomware attack, the opening of just one suspicious email containing a harmful link or attachment can lead to a company-wide event. However there appears to be a disconnect between executive priorities around data protection and the need to invest in a cyber-savvy workforce through training, incentives and talent management strategies."

Willis Towers Watson's Survey also detailed additional barriers that companies feel impact their cyber preparedness and the degree to which corporations are providing cyber training to their employers. Some additional findings include:

"Hackers are exploiting the fact that while corporations are building walls of technology around their organizations and their networks, by far the biggest threat to corporate digital security and privacy continues to come from the employees within, often completely by accident," said Dagostino. "A truly holistic cyber risk management strategy requires at its core a cyber-savvy workforce, however organizations first have to know where the vulnerabilities are in order to plug the gaps.

www.willistowerswatson.com