Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Perimeter

11/22/2013
08:12 AM
50%
50%

Threat Intel To Deliver Some Benefits To Cyberinsurance

About a third of large companies have a cyberinsurance policy, but the industry still has issues measuring risks and gauging threats

Cybersecurity insurance has long been touted as a way that companies could offset the risk of online attacks and data loss, but insurers continue to lack the data necessary to create a competitive and sustainable market.

The increasing availability of threat intelligence, however, could allow insurers to better gauge the risk that potential customers may face online. An analysis of external data that indicates whether a business may be compromised, for example, has detected significant differences between the security posture of companies in different industries, according to a recent report by security-ratings firm BitSight. The financial, retail, and power industries all have fewer compromises and security alerts than the software and technology industry, the firm found.

Such data could help insurers improve their risk picture, says Stephen Boyer, co-founder and chief technology officer for BitSight.

"If they can get good proxies for how an organization is managing risk over time, then they can do a better job at modeling that risk," Boyer says. "Right now, they don't have any of that -- they basically only have questionnaires."

Cyberinsurance has grown more popular in recent years. A recent Ponemon Institute survey found that 31 percent of companies had a cybersecurity insurance policy in place, while another 39 percent of companies plan to buy a cybersecurity policy.

The lack of security data, however, is hampering the adoption of cyberinsurance, according to the study. Companies that do not plan to adopt policies list a variety of reasons all linked to the uncertainty in measuring risks, citing expensive premiums, too many exclusions, and not appreciably different coverage than their property and casualty insurance, the Ponemon survey found.

[Liberty Mutual says it isn't liable to pay cyberinsurance claims filed by grocery chain Schnucks. See cyberInsurer Sues Grocery Client, Says It Won't Pay Breach Claims.]

Insurers need to find ways of gathering concrete data on the risk, says Andrew Braunberg, research director of for security consultancy NSSLabs.

"The degree to which the insurance companies currently look at the technical controls you have in place to determine the premium for these policies, they are not very sophisticated on how they figure that out. They don't have good data," he says.

NSSLabs focuses on helping companies measure their internal controls to gather a better risk picture, while BitSight and other threat-intelligence firms focus on externally available information that could indicate whether a company has been breached.

Yet companies themselves often do not have their own data or are unwilling to give guidance on their cyber-risk. Only 1 percent of Fortune 1000 companies disclosed an actual breach of cybersecurity in their financial filings to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), according to a survey by Willis, a global insurance broker. Seventeen percent of the Fortune 1000 did not disclose any information about their cyber-risk, the company found.

Many companies continue to lack the capabilities necessary to discover attacks within their networks, Ash Raghavan, principal for insurance in the security and privacy practice at accounting firm Deloitte, said in an e-mail interview.

"They often lack the maturity or means to gather information that resides within their own realms, and the completeness and accuracy of the available data is unclear," he says.

Some relief may be found in the Cybersecurity Framework, a set of voluntary best practices created by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to help companies in securing their systems. While the framework will be finalized next year, many proponents have called for incentives to convince companies to adopt the guidelines. Lower insurance polices could be one such benefit, says NSSLabs' Braunberg.

"If the insurance companies bought into the framework, it might help them to incentivize companies to adopt the framework by requiring policy holders to implement the best practices," he says.

Yet today's threat intelligence providers need to develop a more mature and consistent set of risk metrics before they will truly be of use to insurers, says Deloitte's Raghavan. In addition, general threat intelligence is far less useful than information that may apply to companies in a certain geography or sector, he says.

Finally, threat intelligence will never be sufficient for insurance companies to gauge risk because intelligence sources generally detect attacks after they have already happened, he says.

"The threat landscape evolves quickly," Raghavan says. "This volatility suggests that today's threat intelligence may not provide a sufficient basis for insurers to understand how to price their products over the long term, even if the scope of insurance is quite narrow."

Have a comment on this story? Please click "Add Your Comment" below. If you'd like to contact Dark Reading's editors directly, send us a message. Veteran technology journalist of more than 20 years. Former research engineer. Written for more than two dozen publications, including CNET News.com, Dark Reading, MIT's Technology Review, Popular Science, and Wired News. Five awards for journalism, including Best Deadline ... View Full Bio

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Mobile Banking Malware Up 50% in First Half of 2019
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  1/17/2020
7 Tips for Infosec Pros Considering A Lateral Career Move
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  1/21/2020
For Mismanaged SOCs, The Price Is Not Right
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  1/22/2020
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Write a Caption, Win a Starbucks Card! Click Here
Latest Comment:   It's a PEN test of our cloud security.
Current Issue
IT 2020: A Look Ahead
Are you ready for the critical changes that will occur in 2020? We've compiled editor insights from the best of our network (Dark Reading, Data Center Knowledge, InformationWeek, ITPro Today and Network Computing) to deliver to you a look at the trends, technologies, and threats that are emerging in the coming year. Download it today!
Flash Poll
How Enterprises are Attacking the Cybersecurity Problem
How Enterprises are Attacking the Cybersecurity Problem
Organizations have invested in a sweeping array of security technologies to address challenges associated with the growing number of cybersecurity attacks. However, the complexity involved in managing these technologies is emerging as a major problem. Read this report to find out what your peers biggest security challenges are and the technologies they are using to address them.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2020-7245
PUBLISHED: 2020-01-23
Incorrect username validation in the registration processes of CTFd through 2.2.2 allows a remote attacker to take over an arbitrary account after initiating a password reset. This is related to register() and reset_password() in auth.py. To exploit the vulnerability, one must register with a userna...
CVE-2019-14885
PUBLISHED: 2020-01-23
A flaw was found in the JBoss EAP Vault system in all versions before 7.2.6.GA. Confidential information of the system property's security attribute value is revealed in the JBoss EAP log file when executing a JBoss CLI 'reload' command. This flaw can lead to the exposure of confidential information...
CVE-2019-17570
PUBLISHED: 2020-01-23
An untrusted deserialization was found in the org.apache.xmlrpc.parser.XmlRpcResponseParser:addResult method of Apache XML-RPC (aka ws-xmlrpc) library. A malicious XML-RPC server could target a XML-RPC client causing it to execute arbitrary code. Apache XML-RPC is no longer maintained and this issue...
CVE-2020-6007
PUBLISHED: 2020-01-23
Philips Hue Bridge model 2.X prior to and including version 1935144020 contains a Heap-based Buffer Overflow when handling a long ZCL string during the commissioning phase, resulting in a remote code execution.
CVE-2012-4606
PUBLISHED: 2020-01-23
Citrix XenServer 4.1, 6.0, 5.6 SP2, 5.6 Feature Pack 1, 5.6 Common Criteria, 5.6, 5.5, 5.0, and 5.0 Update 3 contains a Local Privilege Escalation Vulnerability which could allow local users with access to a guest operating system to gain elevated privileges.