— This is the script of CNBC’s news report for China’s CCTV on June 3, 2021, Thursday.
Since 2018, targets of hackers have been shifting from large companies with rich data, such as banks and retailers, to companies that are less armed against cyber-attacks but more essential to people’s daily lives. Globally, new victims of cyber-attacks are increasingly concentrated in the public sector and infrastructures.
The 2019 ransomware attack on Norwegian aluminum giant Norsk Hydro ASA cost the company $52 million in the first quarter of that year. Last year, a hack cost United Health Services $67 million. In March this year, insurance giant CNA Financial paid $40 million to hackers, the largest ransom back then. Cybersecurity attacks are almost everywhere. A Houston school with about 10,000 students also paid more than $200,000 when it became a victim of ransomware attack. Statistics show that in the first quarter of this year, the public sector was the top target of cyber-attacks, followed by health care and education.
The 2020 World Economic Forum’s Global Risks Report listed cyber-attacks on critical infrastructure as a top concern. This was reinforced by the increasingly frequent cybersecurity incidents of 2021. UK-based cyber risk and privacy management solutions provider IT Governance tracked public information and discovered 143 incidents that resulted in over 1 billion breached records in April. In the first quarter of 2021, there were 351 security incidents, accounting for over 3 billion breached records. This represents a 50% increase from the same period of last year. IT Governance also finds that the number of cyber incidents has been steadily climbing this year.
In light of the mounting cyber-attacks, the percentage of insurance clients opting for cyber coverage has increased from 26% in 2016 to 47% last year. Cyber insurance premiums have increased about 12% from the beginning of 2018 to the end of 2020.
According to a report from credit-rating organization Fitch Ratings, cyber insurance premiums in the United States recorded a 22% annual gain in 2020 and totaled around $3 billion.
In addition to insurance, companies are proactively fighting against cyber-attacks by enhancing security defense capabilities. The private sector plays an active role along with the government. Stocks of cybersecurity companies are favored by investors, and many exchange-traded funds, known as ETFs, that focus on cybersecurity also outperformed the market in the past year.