Cyber Risk

Cybersecurity by the Numbers

Some corporate boards innovate in cyber risk while some fall behind, according to some new reports.
By: | May 12, 2017 • 4 min read

New reports show how companies can profit from innovative risk strategies and achieve the cyber risk maturity that still eludes most firms.

PwC released its annual Risk in Review report, “Managing risk from the front line” in April. The report highlights companies that shift risk management strategy into their revenue-generating units — and project higher profits as a result.

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The study’s “Front Liners” — companies most adept at moving risk decision-making into their front line units — comprise only 13 percent of a wide sample (almost 1600 executives across 30 industries), with 63 percent agreeing that they should take similar measures and 46 percent actively intending to within 36 months.

These Front Liners, as PwC calls them, tend to predict increased profit margin growth and increased revenue growth. They also recover more quickly from business disruptions.

Front Liners also manage all measured risks more efficiently, including cybersecurity risks — but many of these top scorers unexpectedly lag in overall “cyber risk maturity.”

Only 3 percent of all respondents showed “very high maturity” at managing cyber risks, with only 6 percent more at “high maturity.”

“Every company is on a journey,” Grant Waterfall, PwC’s global cybersecurity and privacy assurance co-leader pointed out.

Beyond heavily regulated, data-centric industries like banking and finance, he said, traditional or manufacturing firms are increasingly becoming tech companies, as they do business online, through mobile apps, or embed tech in their products.

Grant Waterfall, PwC’s global cybersecurity and privacy assurance co-leader

They accumulate —  and need to protect — consumer data (or consumers themselves, vulnerable from the use of hack-prone driverless cars or medical devices). Their own proprietary information and systems are also high-value hacker targets.

In the new Internet of Things marketplace, companies also need to be known as safe to do business with, said Waterfall.  Cybersecurity budgets may become part of the brand conversation.

Cyber risk is top-of-mind across all industries. A full 62 percent of firms surveyed expect a breach in the next three years. In PwC’s 20th Annual Global CEO survey, 85 percent of U.S. CEOs were “somewhat or extremely concerned” about cyber threats to fiscal growth.

Despite this concern, companies remain slow to upgrade or implement security measures.  Observers blame poor communication between corporate directors and security executives.

Yong-Gon Chon, CEO of Focal Point Data Risk LLC, a data security company, points to a “disparity in alignment” between the perspectives of board members and security leaders. Many studies have highlighted each side’s different priorities, he said. Data (and data security) are intangible and invisible.

Their value can be hard to quantify. Corporate directors may be slow to perceive the security measures (and expenditures) needed.

Waterfall, a co-sponsor of the PwC 2017 report, agreed that this is a problem.

“There’s no lack of awareness at board-level that this is a very, very important risk. But there is a disconnect between the people who really understand the issues and the boards’ understanding of the issues,” he said.

Many boardroom visitors note this troubled dynamic.

Dena Cusick, Technology, Privacy and Network Risk Practice Leader at Wells Fargo Insurance Services, consults with security leaders, directors and their committees on risk transfer options.

Boards — and security leaders — routinely ask her team to fill knowledge gaps or help with readiness evaluations when in-house communication falls short. Cusick has reviewed numerous proprietary risk assessments, and often finds little clarity.

“If I don’t know what this means,” she says, “how is the board going to know what this means?”

Focal Point Data Risk LLC, located in Tampa, Fla., and Virginia-based research services firm Cyentia Institute, jointly issued an in-depth analysis of this tension between CISOs, their CIO/CTOs, and their boards.

“There’s no lack of awareness at board-level that this is a very, very important risk. But there is a disconnect between the people who really understand the issues and the boards’ understanding of the issues,” — Grant Waterfall, global cybersecurity and privacy assurance co-leader, PwC

The “Cyber Balance Sheet” 2017 Report acknowledges that stakeholders’ different priorities (and vocabularies) can preclude meaningful dialogue.

This study identifies and explores six “balance points” where communication stalls or breaks down between the CISO and the directors — and provides tools to ignite collaboration.

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“We as an industry have an opportunity to really change how we measure cyber risk,” said Chon. Common ground, including mutually accepted metrics, must come first.

The report introduces the concept of the cyber balance sheet, which enables security leaders to present data and cyber security concepts as traditional assets and liabilities.

Directors can then view these in the same format used for operational or financial risks. They can accept, mitigate, or transfer risk as needed, directly from the balance sheet. Chon insists true risk management includes all three processes.

When directors are fully educated in their own language, he said, progress begins. Security leaders who can get backing for an organizational “stress test,” such as a breach-readiness assessment, or establish the value of their data (including “crown jewels” vs. other data types), have made important strides.

Board members do lose sleep over possible cyber events, said Cusick. They know the risk is out there, and are not afraid to parse options.

“Someone just needs to distill it for them.”

David Whiteside spent 23 years in the insurance industry, and now works as an insurance and financial journalist. He lives and writes from southwestern Utah. David can be reached at [email protected]

More from Risk & Insurance

More from Risk & Insurance

Risk Management

The Profession

Pinnacle Entertainment’s VP of enterprise risk management says he’s inspired by Disney’s approach to risk management.
By: | November 1, 2017 • 4 min read

R&I: What was your first job?

Bus boy at a fine dining restaurant.

R&I: How did you come to work in this industry?

I sent a résumé to Harrah’s Entertainment on a whim. It took over 30 hours of interviewing to get that job, but it was well worth it.

R&I: If the world has a modern hero, who is it and why?

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The Chinese citizen (never positively identified) who stood in front of a column of tanks in Tiananmen Square on June 5, 1989. That kind of courage is undeniable, and that image is unforgettable. I hope we can all be that passionate about something at least once in our lives.

R&I: What emerging commercial risk most concerns you?

Cyber risk, but more narrowly, cyber-extortion. I think state sponsored bad actors are getting more and more sophisticated, and the risk is that they find a way to control entire systems.

R&I: What is the riskiest activity you ever engaged in?

Training and breaking horses. When I was in high school, I worked on a lot of farms. I did everything from building fences to putting up hay. It was during this time that I found I had a knack for horses. They would tolerate me getting real close, so it was natural I started working more and more with them.

Eventually, I was putting a saddle on a few and before I knew it I was in that saddle riding a horse that had never been ridden before.

I admit I had some nervous moments, but I was never thrown off. It taught me that developing genuine trust early is very important and is needed by all involved. Nothing of any real value happens without it.

R&I: What about this work do you find the most fulfilling or rewarding?

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Setting very aggressive goals and then meeting and exceeding those goals with a team. Sharing team victories is the ultimate reward.

R&I: What is the most unusual/interesting place you have ever visited?

Disney World. The sheer size of the place is awe inspiring. And everything works like a finely tuned clock.

There is a reason that hospitality companies send their people there to be trained on guest service. Disney World does it better than anyone else.

As a hospitality executive, I always learn something new whenever I am there.

James Cunningham, vice president, enterprise risk management, Pinnacle Entertainment, Inc.

The risks that Disney World faces are very similar to mine — on a much larger scale. They are complex and across the board. From liability for the millions of people they host as their guests each year, to the physical location of the park, to their vendor partnerships; their approach to risk management has been and continues to be innovative and a model that I learn from and I think there are lessons there for everybody.

R&I: What is the risk management community doing right?

We are doing a much better job of getting involved in a meaningful way in our daily operations and demonstrating genuine value to our organizations.

R&I: What could the risk management community be doing a better job of?

Educating and promoting the career with young people.

R&I: What have you accomplished that you are proudest of?

Being able to tell the Pinnacle story. It’s a great one and it wasn’t being told. I believe that the insurance markets now understand who we are and what we stand for.

R&I: Who is your mentor and why?

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John Matthews, who is now retired, formerly with Aon and Caesar’s Palace. John is an exceptional leader who demonstrated the value of putting a top-shelf team together and then letting them do their best work. I model my management style after him.

R&I: What is your favorite book or movie?

I read mostly biographies and autobiographies. I like to read how successful people became successful by overcoming their own obstacles. Jay Leno, Jack Welch, Bill Harrah, etc. I also enjoyed the book and movie “Money Ball.”

R&I: What is your favorite drink?

Ice water when it’s hot, coffee when it’s cold, and an adult beverage when it’s called for.

R&I: What does your family think you do?

In my family, I’m the “Safety Geek.”

R&I:  What’s your favorite restaurant?

Vegas is a world-class restaurant town. No matter what you are hungry for, you can find it here. I have a few favorites that are my “go-to’s,” depending on the mood and who I am with.

If you’re in town, you should try to have at least one meal off the strip. For that, I would suggest you get reservations (you’ll need them) at Herbs and Rye. It’s a great little restaurant that is always lively. The food is tremendous, and the service is always on point. They make hand-crafted cocktails that are amazing.

My favorite Mexican restaurant is Lindo Michoacan. There are three in town, and I prefer the one in Henderson as it has the best view of the valley. For seafood, you can never go wrong with Joe’s in Caesar’s Palace.




Katie Dwyer is an associate editor at Risk & Insurance®. She can be reached at [email protected]