Asia markets tentative ahead of Opec meeting

Wednesday 2.30am GMT Overview Markets across Asia were treading cautiously on Wednesday, following mild overnight gains for Wall Street, a weakening of the US dollar and as investors turned their attention to a meeting between Opec members later today. What to watch Oil prices are in focus ahead of Wednesday’s Opec meeting in Vienna. The […]

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Banks, Financial

RBS emerges as biggest failure in tough UK bank stress tests

Royal Bank of Scotland has emerged as the biggest failure in the UK’s annual stress tests, forcing the state-controlled lender to present regulators with a new plan to bolster its capital position by at least £2bn. Barclays and Standard Chartered also failed to meet some of their minimum hurdles in the toughest stress scenario ever […]

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Barclays: life in the old dog yet

Barclays, a former basket case of British banking, is beginning to look inspiringly mediocre. The bank has failed Bank of England stress tests less resoundingly than Royal Bank of Scotland. Investors believe its assets are worth only 10 per cent less than their book value, judging from the share price. Although Barclays’s legal team have […]

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Currencies, Equities

Scary movie sequel beckons for eurozone markets

Just as horror movies can spook fright nerds more than they expect, so political risk is sparking heightened levels of anxiety among seasoned investors. Investors caught out by Brexit and Donald Trump are making better preparations for political risk in Europe, plotting a route to the exit door if the unfolding story of French, German […]

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Dollar rises as markets turn eyes to Opec

European bourses are mirroring a tentative Asia session as the dollar continues to be supported by better US economic data and investors turn their attention to a meeting between Opec members. Sentiment is underpinned by US index futures suggesting the S&P 500 will gain 3 points to 2,207.3 when trading gets under way later in […]

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Categorized | Insurance

Small companies are not immune to hacks

Posted on October 3, 2016

Dave Palmer©Anna Gordon

Ransom beware: Dave Palmer

Managers of small and medium businesses who assume that only the biggest companies are targeted by cyber attacks have already made their first mistake.

A third of small British businesses suffered a cyber breach in the past year, according to a UK government study, while just under half of such companies had any form of cyber insurance cover.

    Yet the government study showed 60 per cent of small businesses had cyber incident response plans in place, compared with 52 per cent of all companies.

    Dave Palmer, director of technology at cyber security consultancy Darktrace, says many attacks are indiscriminate, so it is essential that executives of companies of all sizes “think about the risks of what would kill the business and stop it operating” if a hack or data theft occurs.

    Mark Hawksworth, head of the technology practice at Cunningham Lindsey, a loss adjuster, says hackers are increasingly targeting smaller businesses because larger employers have more resources to protect themselves, making smaller companies more vulnerable.

    One form of cyber attack that is becoming more common, and to which smaller companies are particularly exposed, is the use of ransomware. This is where the attacker gains entry to a company’s network, encrypts the data and makes them unusable, then demands a ransom from the company in return for an encryption key.

    Insurer Beazley predicts a 400 per cent increase in ransomware breaches globally this year. Businesses cannot be entirely immune from such attacks, security experts say, but there are several simple and practical steps to help reduce the risk.

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    These include ensuring employee passwords are long and difficult to guess, training staff to recognise unsolicited emails and — most importantly — keeping technology up to date. “There can be a desire to sweat assets, but it is important to keep computers and software updated,” says Mr Palmer.

    Another measure cyber security specialists advise smaller companies put in place is software that spots unusual network activity, such as bulk copying to an external hard drive. Mr Palmer says he has seen a spate of incidents recently where the culprits were disgruntled employees stealing data.

    Sandra Cole, UK and international breach response manager at Beazley, says regardless whether a company has cyber insurance, it should have an incident response plan in place. This means that in the event of a breach staff are given roles such as contacting clients and authorities, “rather than running around like headless chicken,” Ms Cole says. The plan needs to be tested and updated rather than just drawn up and forgotten about, she adds.

    Mr Hawksworth says small businesses often use external IT consultants to keep down costs, but suggests they appoint someone internally to make sure IT policies are adhered to and put them in charge of the response plan in the event of an attack.