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Safeguarding sensitive data: cybersecurity challenges and solutions for umbrella companies and recruiters

Global cybersecurity statistics indicate there are 2,200 cyberattacks daily, with one happening every 39 seconds on average.1  In today's digital age, umbrella companies and recruiters face significant cybersecurity challenges due to the vast amounts of sensitive data they handle every day. In this article, we explore these critical vulnerabilities and offer solutions to mitigate cyber threats in the recruitment industry.

The volume and diversity of data

Recruitment agencies and umbrella companies manage a wide array of data, including the personal information of job seekers and the financial details of client companies. This diversity of data presents an enticing target for cyberattackers seeking financial gain or malicious activities.

Risks of digital platforms and communication channels

Having a reliance on digital platforms and communication channels introduces various cybersecurity risks. Phishing attacks exploit human vulnerabilities, while malware and ransomware can infiltrate systems through unsecured channels, highlighting the importance of robust cybersecurity protocols. Ransomware is expected to continue dominating cybercrime in 2024. Over 72% of businesses worldwide were affected by ransomware attacks in 2023.2

The consequences of cyberattacks

The Cyber Breaches Survey reported in March 2023 that around a third of businesses had experienced a cyberattack in the previous 12 months.3 The larger the organisation, the more likely they were to have experienced an incident: 69% of large firms reported breaches.3

Phishing attacks, malware infections, and ransomware threats can have severe consequences, including financial losses, reputational damage, and legal repercussions. Breaches involving sensitive data can erode trust and credibility, damaging relationships with clients, candidates, and regulatory authorities.

Mitigating cybersecurity risks

A significant factor in preventing cyberattacks is preventing human error with thorough and frequent cyber awareness training for all employees. With 82% of UK recruitment firms adopting some form of hybrid working, you also need to ensure any staff working from home adopt cyber secure practices.4  An estimated 95% of cyberattacks are down to human error, opening attachments in malicious emails, or using weak passwords.5

Educate employees about cybersecurity best practices, including recognising and avoiding phishing attempts and suspicious links. Establish clear protocols for handling sensitive information and train staff on how to respond to potential security incidents.

Limit access to sensitive data only to authorised personnel and regularly review access controls to ensure they align with business needs. Implement robust password policies and encourage employees to use unique, complex passwords for their accounts.

Regularly conduct security assessments and audits to identify and address potential vulnerabilities in your systems and processes. Stay informed about the latest cybersecurity threats and industry best practices to adapt your security measures accordingly.

Having a cyber liability insurance policy in place is essential to protect your business against risks associated with cybercrime. Work with your insurance broker to determine your indemnity levels—cyber claims costs can reach figures much higher than you may think.

What to do if you do suffer a cyberattack

If you’re unfortunate enough to be subjected to an attack, you need to be ready to react immediately and ensure your company can bounce back as quickly as possible. Consider the following steps to help manage the situation:

  • Identify the extent of the breach and disconnect any compromised systems from your network to prevent spreading the risk.
  • Identify if you need to report the breach to the ICO.6
  • Take immediate action and call upon your business continuity plan.
  • Contact your insurer if you are covered by cyber insurance and report the claim immediately; they can advise you on further steps.

Key takeaways

  1. Do not try to pay the ransom demand. Insurers may not agree with the amount or process, leaving policyholders unable to recover their losses. There’s no guarantee you will retrieve any lost data even if you choose to pay.
  2. Do not incur any costs without insurers' approval, as their technical service support team may approach the claim differently and allow you to recover all the costs incurred.
  3. Do not rely solely on the fact that you may have your data stored in the cloud. Consider what would happen if the third-party storage company was attacked.
  4. Conduct a full risk assessment to understand your total exposure.
  5. Your employees are a source of vulnerability to cyberattacks; ensure they are fully trained.
  6. Ensure your indemnity levels are fit for purpose to avoid underinsurance in the event of a claim.
  7. Notify insurers as soon as you become aware of an attack – do not engage with the cyber criminals directly.
  8. Let your insurer’s first responders take over the running of the claim to ensure the insurer meets all costs.
  9. If you haven’t already arranged cyber insurance, speak to your broker.

Speak to our specialist team today and see how we can help your business.

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