Of the 1000 businesses surveyed, almost two-fifths (39%) of senior decision makers in UK companies say cyber-attacks are one of their biggest concerns, yet the vast majority of businesses (82%) do not have specialist insurance in place to cover them against the cost and impact of a cyber-attack, according to research by Gallagher.
Cyber Attacks

The issue of ‘silent’ cyber exposure is being caused by UK business leaders thinking traditional insurance covers them, when in reality a standard policy is unlikely to offer cyber cover. Under a fifth (18%) of businesses have a standalone cyber insurance policy, with many business owners buying a policy direct from an insurer (43%) without the advice of a broker, leaving them potentially unaware of the risks their business may be exposed to.

Business leaders may also feel their business is protected against cyber risk as they have invested in technology. 42% of bosses have invested in out of the box technology, however unfortunately only a minority (39%) have taken specialist external advice, leaving many making business critical decisions, potentially without the knowledge required.

Of the businesses surveyed, the majority of leaders in larger organisations4 cite cyber-attacks and data breaches as a big issue (59%), compared to a minority of bosses running firms employing 50 people or less (19%). However last year, a third of all businesses (32%) admitted they had been subject to a cyber-security breach or attack, showing that the risk is considerable to businesses of all sizes5.

The most common type of cyber issue to impact UK businesses is phishing attacks (identified by 80% of business that experienced a problem), impersonation in emails or online (28% of businesses) and viruses, spyware or malware including ransomware attacks (27% of businesses).

Tom Draper, Head of Cyber at Gallagher, said: "The issue of cyber-crime is one of the biggest risks facing businesses today. Clearly there are practical steps businesses can take to help protect against cyber-attacks, but unfortunately the risk remains significant and many businesses are leaving themselves exposed to financial and reputational damage if they do not consider having specialist insurance in place.

“It is evident from our research that many bosses believe they are covered in the event of a cyber-attack, however traditional or off the shelf business insurance policies do not typically provide cover for cyber related issues.

“While there is evidence to suggest larger businesses are more commonly targeted, small and mid-size businesses are still very much exposed to cyber security breaches or attacks and may not have sophisticated protection in place like large businesses, and cyber criminals will be aware of this vulnerability. They are also liable to be caught up in cyber-attacks aimed at third party suppliers or those targeted at common systems and software, such as the cloud, on which their business may rely."

On an industry sector basis, there are also major discrepancies in bosses’ views on cyber-attacks. Over half (55%) of leaders in the manufacturing sector believe cyber-attacks are an issue mainly for other types of organisations, followed closely by healthcare leaders at 42%, and 44% of those in transport. The reality is that in all three of these sectors are at high risk of cyber-attacks or data breaches.

Tom added: “Our data shows that bosses in some industries think they are less likely to be targeted but the reality is that the majority of businesses now have some exposure to cyber-crime. Both healthcare and manufacturing are industries that have been singled out as at high risks.

“In healthcare this is due to the nature of customer information they handle. The manufacturing sector, which includes automotive, electronics and pharmaceuticals companies are vulnerable because cyber-attacks are primarily financial motived and are therefore likely to target businesses where they can demand a high amount of money as well as sell information to competitors.”

1. 39% of 5.9 million private sector businesses in the UK = 2.3 million.
2. Those employing between 250 and 500 staff
3. Opinium / Beaming April 2019
4. 250 +
5. Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport