IPA Data Dive: Building Up Cybersecurity Defenses

The FBI reports that cybercrime reports have nearly quadrupled in 2020, with ransomware attacks having increased sevenfold over 2019’s numbers. What has long been a top concern among firm leaders, in other words, has only grown over the past year. In the face of this intensifying threat, what steps are firm leaders taking to protect their clients and their data?

Among the 157 respondents in IPA’s 2020 IT survey, 81% of all non-Big 4 firms made changes to their systems, software or policies due to increasing cyberthreats. In terms of specific actions, the majority of respondents (75%) took a multi-pronged approach to their cybersecurity defenses by stepping up their game on a number of fronts including staff education, software improvement, outsourcing security and updating written policies. Of the remaining firms that took just a single-pronged approach, 14% altered or increased staff education, 4% invested in additional software solutions, 3% looked to outsourced security providers and 1% updated their written policies.

Meanwhile, IPA’s 2020 Firm Administration survey shows that firms are also continuing to invest in cybersecurity insurance, with 160 non-Big 4 firms paying out an average annual premium of $12,812 for an average of around $2.8 million in coverage. Not surprisingly, larger firms tend to have higher cybersecurity coverage amounts and premiums, but premium increases don’t necessarily follow suit – firms in the $10-$15 million range saw their premiums jump by 22.3%, compared to an average of just 7.6% for all non-Big 4 firms.

It’s important to note as well that firms in the survey were reporting on their enhanced cybersecurity efforts prior to the pandemic-related office shutdowns of 2020. As workforces went largely or even entirely remote over the past nine months, it stands to reason that cybercrime has only become a more insidious threat among scattered staffers on far-flung devices. Have firms taken the necessary steps to address cybersecurity amid these changing and challenging dynamics?

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