Should we share Cyber Security information ?

cyber security

Should we share cyber security information ?

Is this a good idea… there are very good reasons why we should share cyber security information and there are also reasons that perhaps it may not be such a good idea.

The current landscape seems to be moving towards the sharing of this confidential and sensitive information with regulation being imposed on both sides of the Atlantic in recent months to promote and encourage the sharing of cyber security information.

At the end of last year  the EEC announced The Network and Information Security Directive (NIS) which is a security and reporting directive for companies in critical business sectors , namely transport , energy , health and finance. This is also applicable to the businesses such as Google and Amazon.

This Directive includes a requirement to report cyber security breaches which is aimed to encourage greater visibility of cyber crime and data breaches within companies and for companies to address their own cyber security.

It is anticipated that this will be ratified in the Spring, with implementation anticipated within the next two years.

In the US , also at the end of last year, the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA) was passed by the Senate which allows companies to share cybersecurity threat data with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and other federal agencies. A number of bodies that already exist in the US which include the sharing of cybersecurity information . These include Enhanced Cybersecurity Services (ECS) which is a  voluntary information sharing program and whose aim is to help better protect busineses customers and the National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Centre (NCCIC) which shares  information with public and private sector partners.

In the UK the Cyber-security Information Sharing Partnership (CiSP) exists which is part of CERT-UK . This is a joint industry government initiative set up to share cyber threat and vulnerability information in order to increase overall awareness of cyber threats and help mitigate the impact this may have on UK businesses.

The British Insurance Brokers Association ( BIBA) have recently endorsed (CiSP) to encourage insurance brokers to join CiSP to share the knowledge of over 4000 cyber-security professionals from over 1500 organisations. The government is also very keen that the insurance industry works closer with cyber security professionals and it is likely that we will see evidence of this in the future via associations and collaborations.

Let’s now review the positives and negatives of sharing cyber security information :-


  • It provides information to business on the latest forms of malware, spear phishing campaigns, and known malicious domains
  • Improvement in technology to combat the latest forms of security threats
  • Information derived from claims that insurers can assess / rate and improve the coverage under cyber insurance policies.
  • Assessment of insurers aggregation
  • Information to help insurers analyse cyber catastrophe models
  • Provision of knowledge to help anticipate future terrorists lead cyber attacks


  • Possible release of confidential information of cyber attacks and data breaches to third parties
  • The information provided may impact on a company to carry out businesses with existing customers being concerned with poor cyber security measures.
  • Collateral damage to reputation of a business and impact on stock market share price
  • Hackers gain access to extremely sensitive data bases
  • Perceived by some that “big brother” is spying and will encourage surveillance of businesses
  • Inadvertent sharing of personally identifiable information

The cyber security industry also has an important role to play as they are arguably possess the greatest amount of cyber security data, this is no doubt considered valuable intellectual property and there would be a reluctance to readily share this to a wider audience without distribution to secure destinations.

The sharing of cyber security information is more advanced in the US than the EEC / Rest of the World and is reflective of two very differing cyber landscapes , with the US being more mature in terms of number and size of cyber security breaches and the existing litigation that helps drives notification.

The sharing of cybersecurity information definitely has a role to play in the development of the improvement of cyber security and the defence of cyber attacks that can threaten a business……  how it is shared is perhaps the current dilemma facing governments and regulators.

EU – US Privacy Shield – is data safe again?


The privacy of the transfer of data between the UK and US received a boost this week when the European Commission announced that political agreement had been reached on what is effectively a replacement of the Safe Harbor, known as the “Shield Decision”. A Working Party has subsequently published their initial reactions which the European Commission must take into account if the Working Party does not agree with “The Shield Decision”. In the event that that national data protection authorities refuse transfers on the basis of this decision this will be raised to the European Court of Justice.

This is the result of three months of negotiations between the EU and US  after the fall of the Safe Harbor agreement that existing up until October last year. The deadline of 31st January was missed as negotiations over run with both parties failing to agree new privacy boundaries.

In the meantime it is understood that local data protection authorities will continue to accept standard contractual clauses and binding corporate rules for transfers  of data to the US, providing privacy protection between these countries.

The main obligations imposed on firms handling Europeans personal data are as follows:-

  • US firms will need to commit to “robust obligations”  on how personal data is processed and individual rights guaranteed . This will be monitored by the US Department of Commerce.
  • Clear safeguards and transparency obligations will be imposed on the US Government which will set out specific limitations for law enforcement and national security reasons
  • There will be protection for EU citizens rights with options for redress. This will include avenues for citizens who feel the privacy of their data has been misused with strict guidelines for response to complaints

It is by no means “home and dry” , in addition to the Working Party involvement , Europe’s national privacy agencies meet to pass their own judgement on how data can be safely moved from the EU.

How does this impact on the cyber insurance market and insurers perception of data being at risk ?

It is too early to assess the impact of this decision , especially as the “Privacy Shield” has some way to go before being fully ratified , but any privacy protection laws and regulations assists cyber insurers in being more comfortable with the associated risks of loss of personal data and individuals privacy.

The importance of Cyber Liability Insurance

Cyber Liability Insurance

The importance of cyber liability insurance in the future was highlighted as EU Protection rules were finally agreed between the Parliament, the Council and the Commission . This will be known as the General Data Protection Regulation ( GDPR) and will apply to all current 28 EU members.

This will unify and modernise data protection laws across the EU , it will apply to data processors as well as data controllers.

The next stage is for the Civil Liberties Committee to approve the text of the GDPR and once this has been approved it will be put to the vote by parliament at the beginning of 2016. Regulation will then become directly applicable and will take effect in Member States in 2018.

Some of the main data protection requirements will be as follows:-

  1. Businesses will need to appoint a data protection officer
  2. Data breaches will need to be notified to the relevant data protection authority within 72 hours. Depending upon the breach it may need to be notified to the affected data subjects.
  3. Businesses will need to carry out privacy impact  assessments prior to carrying out any high risk data processing.
  4. Implement privacy by design when carrying out processing personal data.

If a business is found to be in breach of the GDPR , a fine of up to 4% of their total worldwide turnover which demonstrates the importance that the EC attach to this.

This has been a very busy two weeks for the EEC as they also announced last week the first cyber security law , the Network and Information Security Directive . This represents a security and reporting directive for companies in critical businesses sectors such as transport , energy , health and finance.

Despite the GDPR not coming into force until 2018 , it is important to now consider the implications of the cost of compliance on a businesses such as :-

  • The adequacy of a IT systems
  • The current methodology of data collection and processing
  • The re-training of staff with the new data protection law and implications of non- adherence

Cyber liability insurance will play a significant role in supporting businesses when enforcement of the law takes place.

A current Cyber liability insurance policy can assist as follows:-

  • Privacy liability

Damages and claims expenses associated with the unauthorized disclosure of confidential information.

  • Privacy regulatory defense and penalties

In the event of a data breach the policy would provide coverage for claim expenses incurred as result of a civil regulatory action which includes civil penalties or fines to the extent that they are insurable by law.

  • Privacy breach response costs and customer notification expenses

The policy would assist with the response costs associated with the breach and customer notification costs of individuals that may have had their data compromised.

  • Customer support and credit monitoring expenses

This would involve the support of a specialist crisis management response team and the availability of credit monitoring for a period of time post breach, up to a year.

Cyber liability insurance is an evolving insurance product, with insurers constantly looking to enhance coverage in response to a businesses developing technology exposures and it is anticipated this niche product will further develop in response to the forthcoming GDPR.


Cyber Security – New EEC Directive

Cyber Security - New EEC Directive

This week the EEC announced  the first cyber security law , the Network and Information Security Directive . This is a security and reporting directive for companies in critical businesses sectors such as transport , energy , health and finance. This will also apply to to the likes of Google and Amazon .

The directive is primarily two fold :-

1.Requirement of companies to report cyber security breaches

2.Requirement of companies to ensure that they have a secure digital infrastructure in place.

A body of teams will be set up manage incidents in the shape of Computer Security Incidents Response Teams (CSIRTS).

This is likely to ensure greater visibility of cyber crime and data breaches within companies. The impact of which could have commercial consequences as to whether companies can be considered to have adequate cyber security in place by its trading partners . The emphasis of this law is clearly to encourage companies to address their  cyber security and it would be prudent that companies are proactive now in order to be ready for the implementation of this law which is anticipated to come into force within the next two years .

This is a timely decision, as in the US this week , the Federal Trade Commsssion won a lawsuit against Wyndham Worldwide Corporation who failed to properly safeguard customers information . Three separate data breaches were suffered affecting 619,000 customers and led to $10.60M in fraudulent credit card charges. As a result of this Wyndham will be required to improve all aspects of their cyber security.

This new directive should not be confused with the General Data Protection Regulation which will bring unformity to data protection laws in the EEC and compulsory data breach notification for all businesses.

The impact of this new directive will no doubt provide insurers in the cyber liability insurance market with some much needed comfort as one of their focuses in their rating and assessment of exposures is the level of cyber security.

If  this is going to improve it will eventually impact on premiums and conceivably exert downward pressure on premium rates.


Cyber Security Threats for 2016

Cyber Security Threats for 2016

Cyber security will remain a high profile issue for businesses  as we move into 2016.

Many small businesses do not appreciate the speed at which cyber related exposures are developing and the importance of robust cyber security being in place , it is therefore vitally important to be aware of these as businesses are nowadays almost 100% reliant on technology.

Existing cyber security risks will develop and new ones are likely to emerge, some examples of these are as follows:-

  • Outdated technology may be susceptible to unauthorised access from a hacker if patching has not been carried out on a regular basis.
  • Current security procedures need to be updated to keep pace with the sophistication of hackers  techniques.
  • Forgotten maintenance of the Internet may lead to opportunities for hackers
  • The Internet of Things will provided increased connectivity between many more devices and has the potential to produce vulnerabilities in security loop holes.
  • Businesses are increasing moving towards the use of cloud providers and therefore being able to monitor data is likely to become more difficult. With the abolishment of the Safe Harbour this will have of particular impact to firms trading in the USA.
  • Perceived increased focus by hackers on small businesses that may not have the same standard of IT security as larger companies.

The underlying message is that the cyber risk landscape is constantly evolving and businesses must be increasing on their guard to anticipate this by updating and improving their existing cyber security.

A Data Breach might be happening right now …

A Data Breach Might Be Happening Right Now ....

Data Breach – this can occur when you don’t know it and could be happening in your business right now …….

The average time before a data breach is detected in a business is 205 days and has been know to be as long as 8 years.

In the real world a bank robbery occurs in a matter of minutes , in the virtual world a compromise to your security and the gradual stealing of data could occur over many days and even years without you being aware.

It is therefore very important that a businesses has effective cyber security measures in place to combat and manage a potential data breach.

The key to this process centers around three main areas:-

  • The most up to date software or software that is regularly patched.
  • Effective risk management procedures which are constantly reviewed and supported by management at all levels.
  • Regularly updated business continuity /disaster recovery plans.

With this in place it increases the chances of discovering a compromise of your computer systems at an early stage…. – it is very unlikely that you will achieve 100% certainty.

Once discovered it is vitally important that the management of a data breach is carried out in a prompt and organised fashion . If it is not it could make the difference between a business surviving and not being a viable entity post data breach.

A cyber liability insurance policy can help mitigate the impact of a data breach by providing the following benefits:-

  • Crisis Management – this involves the appointment of a crisis management consultant to assess and manage the data breach.
  • Public Relations Costs – the purpose of a PR consultant is to manage the data breach in the public domain so that reputational damage can be minimal.
  • Call Center Costs – the utilization of a call center will assist in the additional costs incurred in the management of customers concerns about the possible loss of personal information and notification of the incident.