'Active' cyber insurers to combat scourge of ransomware
A cyber insurer is bringing its products to Australia in a strategic partnership with Allianz as companies demand better protection from "countless" attacks.
Companies are paying the price as hackers continue to slip through the gaps between traditional insurance and cybersecurity measures, insurers say.
Allianz Australia and fast-growing American firm Coalition have joined forces to launch "active cyber insurance" that combines digital forensics, cyber tools and incident response services with insurance policies, including ransomware coverage.
Organisations have faced a surge of cyber extortion from ransomware, where firewalls and virus blockers are breached and data is locked until a ransom is paid - or lost.
"Cyber risk is a significant threat impacting Australian businesses today," Phuong Ly, chief general manager, commercial, at Allianz Australia, said on Monday.
High-profile attacks in recent years include meat producer JBS Foods, hospitals and health networks, media firms, brewers and logistics.
By combining insurance coverage and cyber tools, Coalition says it can help organisations reduce risk and respond to attacks.
The San Francisco-headquartered company already sells products in North America and the United Kingdom through relationships with leading global insurers, as well as through its own insurance company.
"In the last year alone, countless businesses in Australia have suffered high-profile cyber-attacks, affecting millions of Australians," CEO and co-founder Joshua Motta said.
According to a federal agency, the Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC), ransomware is the most serious cybercrime threat to Australia because of its financial cost and disruption - to governments, businesses and individuals.
As well as a threat to business, ransomware has been recognised by both major parties as a significant national security threat in its own right.
Based in claims so far, global head of cyber at Allianz Commercial Scott Sayce said he expected a 25 per cent rise in the number of claims in 2023.
"The attackers are back and focused again on Western economies, with more powerful tools, enhanced processes and attack mechanisms," he said.
As the costs rise to billions of dollars worldwide, Australia was part of a counter-ransomware summit in Washington last week where governments were focused on not paying hackers.
Paying a ransom does not guarantee systems will be back online quickly or prevent further disruption, experts say.
New laws have been proposed that could require organisations to inform Australia's federal agencies before making a ransom payment.