Keeping up with a rapidly evolving risk

You have recently joined Hiscox with a brief to promote Hiscox’s new Security Incident Response (SIR) product. How did you get into the security sector?
I’ve always been interested in international security and so after taking a postgraduate degree in International and European politics, I applied for roles at a number of political risk analysis companies.

My first job was at the private security company, Aegis, in London, where I specialised in maritime security. This was when Somali piracy was still a major issue so it was an exciting area to work in. When the piracy incidents quietened down, I joined the kidnap response unit, a new business stream for Aegis, and helped to develop it into a credible and profitable team.

What did your role in the kidnap response unit involve?
Much of my role involved speaking to brokers and clients to build up our reputation in the space and establish productive relationships. It included producing kidnap intelligence reports, one-off briefings and white papers on threat developments. I also supported on case work, building up source networks, liaising with families and debriefing kidnap victims. After four years working in this space, I had grown to know the brand of Hiscox well and the opportunity of working for the leading player in the special risks market was very attractive.

Is the security sector a male dominated business?
The traditional route into the industry has been via the armed forces, so historically there have been more men in the industry than women. However, there are more and more women involved in the security industry nowadays and the level of diversity generally is increasing. I’m a member of the Women’s Security Society for example which is a networking group for women (and men) who are involved in the security business at every level. It’s playing a role in promoting women in the business as well as sharing knowledge and empowering women to succeed. Businesses are recognising that to operate globally, to reflect their client base and to attract top talent, their work forces need to be diverse and the security industry is no different. 

What do you see as the biggest security challenge for businesses working internationally?
Keeping up to date with rapidly-changing risk environments is a real challenge. We work closely with global risk consultancy Control Risks who have teams of analysts constantly studying the changing risk landscape. People always think about protecting their interests in territories that are deteriorating but it’s equally important to spot opportunities arising out of territories where the security situation is improving. Knowing the environment that you are operating in and, crucially, the people you operate with locally inside out is a big challenge but vital for a global business.

Are there any new security/threat trends that businesses should be looking out for in particular?
Cyber is the topic at the forefront of most people’s minds and grabbing the headlines. But I think the increasing complexity of the threat environment is a trend worth watching. Cyber attacks themselves are becoming more complex and are often intertwined with other threat types like insider threat or competitor malfeasance.

Even in the more traditional criminal activities like kidnap and extortion we have seen a cyber/technology aspect emerge in recent years. The WannaCry and Petya viruses involved cyber extortions and in the UK there was recently a tiger kidnap – a hostage is taken to coerce another individual into committing a crime – where BitCoins were stolen as part of the ransom.

It’s because of this growing level of complexity that businesses need specialist support and products like our Security Incident Response (SIR) insurance are in demand.

One of the most appealing parts of the SIR policy, which addresses this growing threat, is that clients can engage Control Risks’ response services if they suspect that their systems have been compromised or if the cyber threat is deemed to be imminent. This means that the issue can be addressed before it develops into a full-blown crisis or causes major damage to the company.

What do you think SIR offers that businesses can’t get elsewhere?
The concept of SIR is to make the vast range of Control Risks’ services easily available on an insured basis. Control Risks’ expertise and experience in crisis response across the full range of disciplines, and its geographical-spread, are second to none.

SIR is also uniquely simple – businesses can immediately access Control Risks’ services via a single activation number. All Control Risks’ fees are paid by Hiscox so there’s no requirement for time-consuming procurement processes. SIR enables small businesses to essentially outsource their security to the leading security company in the world, while for large businesses, SIR is a force multiplier; facilitating quick access to additional resources and expertise.

Essentially, SIR provides peace of mind – having the policy in place means that a business guarantees that their employees and contractors have the best support in the event of a specified crisis.