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General Data Protection Regulation warnings

Published: 16/12/2016

It seems that cybersecurity is going to be permanently high on the business agenda as companies receive warnings about new regulation that comes into force in 2018.

UK businesses could face hugely expensive fines in regulatory penalties for cybersecurity breaches when new EU legislation comes into effect in May 2018, according to new findings from the PCI Security Standards Council (PCI SSC).

The new General Data Protection Regulation will set regulatory fines at 4% of global turnover or up to €20million, whichever is greater; figures that far exceed the current £500,000 maximum.

According to a UK government 2015 information security breaches survey, 90% of large organisations and 74% of SMEs reported a security breach, leading to an estimated total of £1.4bn in regulatory fines. So even at 2015 cybersecurity breach levels, the fines paid to the European regulator could see a near 90-fold increase, from £1.4 billion last year, to an incredible £122 billion.

For larger firms this could mean the fines reach £70 billion, which would be more than a 130-fold increase and the average per organisation at £11 million.

Similarly, fines for SMEs could see a 60-fold increase, rising to £52 billion, averaging out at £13,000 per small business.

Jeremy King, international director at the PCI Security Standards Council, said: “The new EU legislation will be an absolute game-changer for both large organisations and SMEs. “The regulator will be able to impose a stratospheric rise in penalties for security breaches, and it remains to be seen whether businesses facing these fines will be able to shoulder the costs.”

The PCI Security Standards Council is a global open body formed to develop, enhance, disseminate and assist with the understanding of security standards for payment account security.

The Council maintains, evolves, and promotes the Payment Card Industry Security Standards. It also provides critical tools needed for implementation of the standards such as assessment and scanning qualifications, self-assessment questionnaires, training and education, and product certification programs.

The Council's founding members, American Express, Discover Financial Services, JCB International, MasterCard, and Visa Inc., have agreed to incorporate the PCI Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) as part of the technical requirements for each of their data security compliance programs.

The organisation has more details on its website about assessment, training and events, as well as a document library and useful blog – see more here www.pcisecuritystandards.org.

Flint has access to a number of specialist cyber insurance products; Allianz is one of our insurers and they have provided the following information as advice to help protect against cyber crime.

Reducing the risk

There are a number of measures that can be taken to reduce the risk of cyber-attacks, which include:

  • Training – educating staff in how to securely use the company’s systems and recognise potential breaches.
  • Keep systems up-to-date – securing ‘patch’ software to automatically update programs to fix security vulnerabilities and carry out regular scans.
  • Monitor removable media – limit access to removable media, such as memory sticks, and scan them before uploading data to company software.
  • Manage and monitor IT systems and networks – control the access of staff, limit the number of privileged users, monitor activity and log and analyse unusual activity.
  • Create a disaster recovery plan – produce and test plans to ensure the business is prepared in the event of an incident.
  • Establish anti-malware protection – scan for malware across the business.
  • Protect networks – implement network security controls to protect networks from internal and external attacks.

In addition, there are a number of schemes and services available to help with cyber-security. Cyber Essentials is a government-backed initiative which aims to help companies protect themselves against common cyber-attacks. UK businesses can apply for certification under this scheme and thereby prove they comply with standards of cyber security that businesses should be adopting.

The Flint commercial insurance team are on hand to tell you more about the various options for cover; how it works, what's included, underwriter terms and typical premiums. Call Jonathan Garrett on 0208 309 3140.

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