Businesses more vulnerable to cyber crime than ever

HP Labs joins global insurer Lloyd’s to warn against a growing threat

Terrorists, hackers, criminal gangs, disgruntled employees and industrial spies are the stuff of Hollywood movies.  But they’re an increasing – and widely underestimated – threat in the very real world of business, too.

That’s the conclusion of a new report from Lloyd’s, the world’s leading specialist insurance market and HP Labs, home to some of the planet’s foremost information security researchers.

Their report, “Managing digital risks: trends, issues and implications for business,” examines recent trends in cyber crime and warns that as businesses become more reliant on technology, they open themselves to increasing risks on a variety of fronts.

In detailing those risks the report notes that some, like extortion and theft, are not new. But technology has increased the speed at which they can occur and amplified their impact.  Others, like the risk of ‘left field’ attacks from hackers trying to show off their technical prowess, have only arrived with the adoption of information technology, but are equally capable of causing widespread damage.

“Whilst the benefits of the cyber revolution are undisputable, we need to look at the implications of our dependency on IT,” notes Lloyd’s Chairman Lord Levene in his forward to the report. “We need to carry out proper assessments of the risks we face,” he adds, “and put in place mechanisms to protect our digital data and processes towards uniform global regulation around cyber crime.”

Thanks to the complexity and shifting nature of modern cyber threats, many businesses are both under-protected and unclear about how to become more secure.  The proper response, the report suggests, is for cyber crime to be seen as much more than just a problem to be tackled at the IT department level.

Among the highlights of the report are recommendations that:

  • risk needs to become a board-level concern
  • companies must acknowledge that risks to cyber security are likely only to grow and become ever more complex
  • companies understand that the range, frequency, scale and sophistication of attacks is likely to increase
  • risk managers need to develop comprehensive risk management strategies to mitigate against the variety of threats that they face
  • governments, industries and companies all need to work closer together to tackle increasing cyber attacks

“Managing Digital Risks” is a publication of the Lloyd’s 360 Risk Insight non-hp site program  and is available for download non-hp site online. Its principal authors are HP Labs Senior Researcher Adrian Baldwin and HP Labs Senior Research Manger Simon Shiu. Both specialize in security research as members of HP’s Cloud and Security Lab (CSL).

In marking the report’s publication, Senior Vice President, Research and Director of HP Labs Prith Banerjee notes that “this collaborative research effort demonstrates HP’s focus on innovation with a purpose.”

&“The combination of Lloyd’s corporate view of risk with HP Labs’ knowledge of future technology trends and information security,” he adds, “has enabled us to provide companies with impactful information about the digital threats facing businesses worldwide.”

For more on how HP Labs research in helping combat cyber crime, check out this recent article.