Cyber insurance a 'major growth area' amid hacker woes

DPM Tharman Shanmugaratnam at the opening ceremony of the 2016 Pre-University Seminar on May 30.
DPM Tharman Shanmugaratnam at the opening ceremony of the 2016 Pre-University Seminar on May 30. PHOTO: ST FILE

The increasing cost of attacks launched by hackers is making cyber insurance a major growth area for insurers, said Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam yesterday.

Mr Tharman, who is also chairman of the Monetary Authority of Singapore, told the forum: "Asia is the most rapidly growing digital market globally. But it also means increasing costs of cyber attacks.

"This is a global problem, and we face it here in Asia. The frequency, sophistication and the sheer audacity of cyber attacks is growing."

His remarks come amid increasing incidents of online attacks around the world and follow news that the Singapore Government will delink Web surfing from the work terminals of public servants from next May. He added: "It will pose huge costs to our economies, and to corporate and personal privacy. The demand for protection will grow, not just the need to insure against losses but also the demand from businesses who wish to strengthen their resilience and to recover more quickly from security breaches."

The market is still in the infancy stages, he noted, adding that the industry, government and academia have to work together to build reliable databases and analytical tools for the efficient underwriting of cyber risk. Singapore set up the Cyber Risk Management Project last month, led by Nanyang Technological University's Insurance Risk and Finance Research Centre, for instance.

Mr Tharman highlighted "the criticality of catastrophe insurance and cyber insurance", and that private and public sectors should work together to deepen knowledge and solutions in these areas.

The forum at the Shangri-La also tackled other issues affecting the insurance industry. Mr Steve Leonard, chief executive of SG-Innovate, which matches start-ups to funds, talked about Singapore's progress towards becoming a smart nation. He said Temasek and GIC have played a part in pushing such efforts, and reminded the forum that more could be done through collaboration.

Rachael Boon

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 14, 2016, with the headline 'Cyber insurance a 'major growth area' amid hacker woes'. Print Edition | Subscribe