The Biggest Cyber Threats Are In Your Own Business

Willis Towers Watson launches new risk culture survey tool to tackle the people challenge

Arlington, VA (Mar. 20, 2017) – Claims data released by Willis Towers Watson, a leading global advisory, broking and solutions company, shows that two-thirds of cyber breaches arise from internal threats.

The data reveals that employee negligence or malicious acts account for two-thirds (66%) of cyber breaches, where only 18% were directly driven by an external threat, and cyber extortion accounted for just 2%.

The company warned that many organisations continue to focus on the technology aspect of cyber defence, which is crucial, but often at the expense of people-related risks, which represent the largest source of data breach claims.

Willis Towers Watson has launched a Cyber Risk Culture Survey solution. Comprising a cyber risk employee survey, it is the first of its kind in the marketplace and connects human capital and workplace culture to employer cyber risk vulnerability. The solution addresses companies’ leading challenges relating to cyber risk, such as tracking the extent of risk inherent in their employee’s behaviours, determining ways to mitigate this factor, and ultimately building a cyber smart workforce.

Hamish Deery, Asia-Pacific head of Talent and Rewards for Willis Towers Watson said the data clearly shows that companies who have had cyber breaches have a different cultural profile. He commented: “Their employees’ experience includes a relatively poor induction when joining the company. Especially in IT, this is a serious source of risk if new staff is not effectively trained to manage cyber risk.

“The inability to create an ongoing learning environment is also evident, including knowledge of how to circumvent hackers’ attempts to acquire confidential and sensitive data. Failing to sufficiently emphasise a customer focus, and appropriate incentive and training programs to support the management of cybersecurity are also evident in those companies who have had breaches. Understanding and addressing these workplace cultural elements is a first step to creating an environment that supports a holistic, integrated risk mitigation strategy.”

Willis Towers Watson Financial and Executive Risks specialist Tanya Stevenson said cyber risk is one of the top-rated business risks faced by Australian companies. Stevenson commented: “With the recent introduction of a mandatory notification regime for privacy breaches, combined with an increased regulatory focus on the cyber resilience of Australian businesses, it is vital that companies understand their cyber risks.”

She added: “Companies are increasingly looking to purchase cyber insurance as a risk transfer solution. Those that are best able to articulate their cyber risk culture and their management of cyber risks, beyond their IT departments, are unsurprisingly in the strongest position for negotiations of cyber insurance quotations and coverage.”

The Cyber Risk Culture Survey solution has three different models, tailored to a company’s needs. The tool measures an organisation’s cultural elements of cyber risk related to human capital awareness and frequency of supportive employee actions. The survey results provide a clear picture of an organisation’s internal risk culture, with a particular focus on where it might be most vulnerable to employee-driven cyber incidents. These results allow senior leadership to take decisive action to create solutions, including cultural changes, and talent and reward interventions, to mitigate cyber risk.

About Willis Towers Watson

Willis Towers Watson (NASDAQ: WLTW) is a leading global advisory, broking and solutions company that helps clients around the world turn risk into a path for growth. With roots dating to 1828, Willis Towers Watson has 40,000 employees serving more than 140 countries. We design and deliver solutions that manage risk, optimize benefits, cultivate talent, and expand the power of capital to protect and strengthen institutions and individuals. Our unique perspective allows us to see the critical intersections between talent, assets and ideas — the dynamic formula that drives business performance. Together, we unlock potential.

Learn more at

SOURCE: Willis Towers Watson