UHNWs are coming under unprecedented assault on the world wide web, a new report shows, and many more remain vulnerable, writes Matthew Hardeman
A new report out today has revealed that 28 per cent of UHNW families, family offices and family businesses have been victims of a cyber-attack — underscoring the extent to which the wealthy are being targeted by cyber-criminals, and how many more remain vulnerable as the threat increases across the globe.
The study – Private & Confidential: The Cyber Security Report – conducted by Campden Research in partnership with law firm Schillings, found that more than a third (38 per cent) of respondents said they do not currently have cyber security plans in place, despite 98 per cent of families citing a secure reputation as an important objective.
Schillings’ chief executive and partner Rod Christie-Miller said that wealthy families were failing to see such attacks as a threat to their reputation; despite a surge in high-profile attacks that involve episodes of blackmail, extortion and smear campaigns. ‘There is a fine line between complacency and confidence,’ says Christie-Miller. ‘The link between private and confidential information being stolen, and the impact this can have on reputation, is not being made.’
Of the 28 per cent who had suffered a cyber-attack, 77 per cent of them – one fifth of the sample – had been subject to phishing – a ‘socially engineered’ method of attack that sees criminals targeting a specific individual as a way in. The attackers make use of publicly available information to improve an attack’s effectiveness – yet the study also revealed 51 per cent of respondents have never audited (or don’t know if they have audited) their publicly available information.
Cyber security needs to become a board-level issue, says Christie-Miller, ‘rather than being relegated to the IT department’: ‘With only 34 per cent of respondents undertaking internal cyber security awareness training, and with phishing the most cited cause of cyber-attack, families need to invest further in their human firewalls, alongside their technical firewalls, while taking a greater interest in their publicly available data before someone else does.’
The latest study comes amid new data emerging in the previous year, highlighting the rise of cyber-crime worldwide: it has been reported that in Q3 of 2016 alone, 18 million new malware samples were captured, while more than 4,000 ransomware attacks have occurred daily since the beginning of that year – a 300 per cent increase over the previous year. That year, 1,000 ransomware attacks were recorded every day, while UK government statistics released in April 2017 revealed that nearly seven in ten large companies had identified a breach or attack in the previous twelve months.
Campden Wealth chief executive Dominic Samuelson says that while it's encouraging to see families taking note of cyber security threats, more work needs to be done: ‘As the consequences of some cyber-attacks and the loss of private and confidential information may not be immediately visible, experts warn that these numbers, in fact, are likely to be higher.’
Matthew Hardeman is assistant head of the Spear’s Research Unit