For an insurance industry trying to recover from an upsurge in ransomware attacks, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine brings another potential threat: a new front in an escalating cyberwar.
Since the start of the conflict, there have been many predictions that cyber operations launched alongside the fighting will cause collateral damage in the global corporate sector. “Shields up” was advice from the US Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency, which urged organizations to act quickly to bolster their defenses.
So far, cyber threats outside the conflict zone have been fewer than expected, experts say. “What we might have feared at this point really didn’t happen,” observes Sarah Stephens, head of cybersecurity for international operations at Marsh, the world’s largest insurance broker.
“Certainly in the insurance community and the cyber risk community there was concern that this was a really systemic, really catastrophic cyber conflict, and that hasn’t happened so far.”
Some even witnessed a lull in cyberattacks in the first weeks of the conflict. “We’ve actually seen a decline in cyber activity directed at our customers,” says Joshua Motta, managing director of cyberinsurer Coalition, whose customer base is concentrated in the United States and Canada.
Motta’s working hypothesis is that this is due to the disruptive war hackers operating in both Ukraine and Russia – “whether it is because of the general chaos that is now being sown in the region, or whether it is some criminals who are redirected or re-assigned to perform other conflict support activities”.
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