18 February 2019Insurance

Aon: cyber threat to rise in 2019 as 5G and internet of things grow

The growth of the ‘internet of things’ (IoT) and the rollout of 5G will make businesses more vulnerable to cyber attacks this year, Aon has warned in its 2019 Cyber Security Risk Report: "What's Now and What's Next".

It found that the rise in IoT devices used for work, such as digital assistants, cloud enabled entry keys and smart thermostat apps, is already resulting in security breaches.

“Many companies don't securely manage or even inventory all IoT devices that touch their business,” it said.
But these inventories and close monitoring of any new process that includes IoT devices are “critical” to managing the risk, Aon said.

The report also warned that as the number of IoT endpoints “increases dramatically” as cellular IoT rolls-out worldwide - connecting your smartphone to objects with sensors like smart-fridges - and the transition to 5G gains pace, the problem of cyber risk will grow.

These findings represent one of eight areas of business where cyber threats are expected to increase this year.

Mergers and acquisitions were another area flagged as more vulnerable to cyber attack as the value of deals in 2018 is expected to hit $4 trillion, Aon said. This is the highest value in four years making M&As a prime target. For example, even if the company buying another business has excellent cyber security, “there is no guarantee that their M&A target has the same approach”.

The report advised dealmakers to incorporate specific cyber security strategies into their larger M&A plans if they want seamless transitions.

Supply chains present another vulnerable area in the year ahead as companies embrace IoT devices at the same time as becoming more reliant on third- and fourth-party vendors and service providers. To counter this risk, the report recommended companies put in forward-looking risk management at board level.

"In 2018 we witnessed that a proactive approach to cyber preparation and planning paid off for the companies that invested in it, and in 2019, we anticipate the need for advanced planning will only further accelerate," said J. Hogg, CEO of Cyber Solutions at Aon.

"Leaders must work to better insulate their companies and their processes, while simultaneously identifying the ways they can benefit from the opportunities offered through technology and digital transformation."

He added that organizations need to share threat intelligence beyond their own network. “While it may seem counterintuitive when thinking about cyber security, collaboration within and across enterprises and industries can keep private data of companies and individuals alike safer. Working together can result in improved efforts to hunt bad actors, while also raising the bar and making all parties more prepared for the inevitable day when a disruption does happen."
Other areas highlighted as making businesses more vulnerable to cyber threats were business operations, over reliance on regulation, employee access, lack of board engagement and wider technological innovation.

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