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Press Release

When it comes to cyber risk, businesses are missing the human touch

Willis Towers Watson launches new risk culture survey tool to tackle the people challenge


March 2, 2017

Willis Towers Watson today urged businesses to focus more on employees and company culture in efforts to manage cyber risk.

ARLINGTON, VA, March 1, 2017 — The company warned that many organizations continue to focus on the technology aspect of cyber defense, which is crucial, but often at the expense of people risks, which represent the largest source of data breach claims. In fact, the company’s claim data show that employee negligence or malicious acts account for two-thirds (66%) of cyber breaches, where by contrast only 18% were directly driven by an external threat, and cyber extortion accounted for just 2%. The data further show that approximately 90% of all cyber claims are the result of some type of human error or behavior.

When it comes to cyber risk, businesses are missing the human touch

In response to these research findings, Willis Towers Watson has launched a Cyber Risk Culture Survey solution. This innovative new tool, a cyber risk employee survey, is the first of its kind in the marketplace. The offering connects human capital and workplace culture to employer cyber risk vulnerability. The solution addresses companies’ leading challenges around cyber risk, such as tracking the extent of risk inherent in their people’s behaviors, determining ways to mitigate this factor and ultimately building a cyber smart workforce.

“Evidence suggests that many businesses are taking an overly technocratic approach to cyber risk and are in danger of missing the bigger picture,” said Anthony Dagostino, head of global Cyber Risk, Willis Towers Watson. “While technology has an important role to play, it really needs to be linked with an understanding of the human element. The simple truth is that a data compromise is more likely to come from an employee leaving a laptop on the train than from a malicious criminal hack. We believe employees and companies with a strong culture and cyber aware workforce are the first line of defense against cyber risk.”

The Cyber Risk Culture Survey solution has three different models, tailored to a company’s needs. The tool measures an organization’s cultural elements of cyber risk related to human capital awareness and frequency of supportive employee actions. The survey results provide a clear picture of an organization’s internal risk culture, with a particular focus on where it might be most vulnerable to employee-driven cyber incidents. These results allow senior leadership to take decisive action to create solutions, including cultural changes, and talent and reward interventions, to mitigate cyber risk.

“When we talk to clients about cyber risk, they tell us bridging their operational silos is one of the biggest hurdles within their organizations,” said Patrick Kulesa, director, Employee Survey Research, Willis Towers Watson. “Our offering is relevant to many audiences within the organization — not only corporate risk managers, data security teams and human resource professionals, but the entire executive suite — all of whom are crucial links in the chain of cyber risk management and mitigation.”

About Willis Towers Watson

Willis Towers Watson (NASDAQ: WLTW) is a leading global advisory, broking and solutions company that helps clients around the world turn risk into a path for growth. With roots dating to 1828, Willis Towers Watson has 40,000 employees serving more than 140 countries. We design and deliver solutions that manage risk, optimize benefits, cultivate talent, and expand the power of capital to protect and strengthen institutions and individuals. Our unique perspective allows us to see the critical intersections between talent, assets and ideas — the dynamic formula that drives business performance. Together, we unlock potential.

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