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Cybercriminals 'more active than ever': Verisk CEO

Julie Hyman
·2 min read

The coronavirus pandemic has sped up the pace of digitization of all kinds of businesses. It’s also ratcheted up vulnerabilities to cyberattacks, said the head of one company whose business it is to analyze risk.

“This is a very good moment for the bad guys,” said Scott Stephenson, CEO of Verisk, in a Yahoo Finance Live interview. “It’s very possible that any given company, by degrees, might take their eye off the defensive ball as it relates to warding off cyber threats. We clearly see in the data that the bad guys are more active than ever.”

Verisk uses data analytics to measure risk for clients across industries. The company saw more demand in its insurance, and energy and specialized markets divisions in the third quarter, with total revenue rising 7.6% to $702.7 million. (It reported earnings on November 4).

Stephenson said cybersecurity risk has been exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic, which has forced many businesses to put more of their operations online or in the cloud at a faster pace than they would have otherwise. Other firms are seeing risks on the rise as well. CrowdStrike CEO George Kurtz told Yahoo Finance in early September that cyberattacks had risen 154% year-over-year.

Even before the pandemic hit, experts were raising alarms. The World Economic Forum’s 2020 Risk Report, released in January, said potential attacks to the energy, health care and transportation industries would be the fifth-biggest risk this year.

hacker  phishing scam during coronavirus pandemic cyber security concept
Credit: Getty

All of this has meant higher demand for cybersecurity protection services. Written insurance premiums for commercial liability could reach $6.2 billion this year, up from $2.5 billion in 2016, according to a report from a division of Verisk.

Stephenson said the compressed timeline imposed by the pandemic hasn’t just made companies more vulnerable to cyberattacks — it can also leave them open to other missteps.

“You cannot overhaul your digital infrastructure overnight,” he said.

Julie Hyman is the co-anchor of Yahoo Finance Live, weekdays 9am-11am ET.

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