Jack Taylor/Getty Images
show image

Infosec 2019: former Lloyd’s of London chief says cyber is now top business risk

Cyber attacks pose one of the greatest threats to businesses today and should be considered in the same league as geopolitical uncertainty and climate change, a former chief executive of the insurance market Lloyd’s of London has warned.

In a wide-ranging speech at Infosecurity Europe in London on Wednesday (5 June), Dame Inga Beale – who ran Lloyd’s between 2013 and 2018 – stressed that cyber threats were at the heart of the changing risk landscape

“We now talk about cyber as one of the biggest risks businesses are facing,” she told attendees. “From a risk management perspective, it’s one of the hottest topics, but also the one we know the least about.”

Beale steered the 333-year-old insurance market through a major digital transformation programme when she took over six years ago. But while the market was still recording deals on paper slips at the time, Beale said that it had been forward-thinking in its approach to security as a business opportunity, securing a 25 per cent share of the cyber insurance market.

However, she warned that the sector still lacks detailed data about attacks and called for the affected sectors to work more closely in order to establish a better understanding of the risks at play.

“[The insurance sector] needs data, because we need to run the scenarios to work out how much we should charge,” she said. “If we can connect the tech sector, the security sector and the insurance sector, [the UK has] got an unrivalled package to go out and cement our place as the leading centre for people to come for [these services].”

Beale noted that insurance was not just about paying out when things go wrong, but also learning how to better secure organisations. “Insurance can be a wonderful way to start mitigating the risk,” she said. “We will work together and look at the way companies are structuring things down to the training of their employees.”

The insurance veteran, who remains the only woman to have run Lloyd’s, also offered advice to businesses leaders grappling with how to make cyber security an issue which board directors can understand

“We shouldn’t try to have everyone on the board as experts,” she said. “To run a company efficiently you need to have the various skillsets – at Lloyd’s we hired two digital experts to provide that knowledge.”