Ransomware continues to shape the cyber risk landscape, explained DWIC roundtable panellists

Ransomware and Business Email Compromise continue to shape the cyber risk landscape, dominating headlines and driving up the cost of claims.

This is according to panellists at the Cyber Risk Roundtable on Day One of the Dubai World Insurance Congress 2022.

The market has hardened considerably as a result, with carriers and cyber reinsurers pulling back capacity and increasingly deploying analytics to better understand the threat, its aggregate potential and how it may impact the balance sheet.

Learning from losses

But the rigorous underwriting process means that insureds who take out cyber cover are among those least likely to be attacked, according to Alex Jomaa, cyber underwriter at Tokio Marine Kiln Group.

Zainab Khatib, vice president of Lockton MENA, said the procurement process was a good way of working with customers to see where they may have areas of vulnerability that need to be strengthened.

“There is so much to learn from cyber insurers because they are the ones who are seeing the claims,” she said.

One area where the industry can improve is through collaboration and sharing of information. For a burgeoning and ever-evolving market like cyber, this is essential if it is to realise its full potential.

It is not enough to have robust cyber security – ongoing monitoring of systems is essential, explained Jarrett Kolthoff, chief executive of Speartip.

The basics of good cyber hygiene – including two factor authentication and controlling who has access to what information and systems within the organisation – are must-haves.

This reduces the potential for human error, deliberate insider threats and makes insureds less likely to fall prey to cybercriminals, who are picking off the “low-hanging fruit”.

Inevitably, the question arose around the ethics of paying ransoms to criminal gangs and whether cyber insurers were complicit in encouraging the growth of the threat.

Panellists explained that ransoms were only ever paid as a last resort and upon the advice of lawyers.

The rise of double extortion ransomware and general lack of coding expertise amongst hackers means there is no guarantee that large, complex datasets will be fully restored, even when ransoms are paid.

“The aim is to recover without paying at all costs,” said Kolthoff.

Cyber: Dangers of constantly evolving Cyber Risk
Hamed Mabrouk Head of Egypt Hub, WTW
Saxon East Session Moderator, Global Reinsurance
Jarrett Kolthoff Chief Executive Officer, Speartip
Zainab Khatib Vice President, Lockton Middle East North Africa
Alex Jomaa Cyber Underwriter, Tokio Marine Kiln Group