Deloitte to invest £430 million in bolstering cyber security defences

05 June 2018 4 min. read
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As cyber threats continue to evolve, threatening the security of consulting firms and clients alike, Deloitte has announced plans to significantly boost its cyber security offering. Having already commenced a hiring spree in the field in Europe, the firm will now invest £430 million into its cyber security line, following a major breach of its defences in 2017.

As of last year, Deloitte remains the largest global provider of cyber security consulting. The firm raked in $2.8 billion in revenues from the service line in 2016 alone, the largest part of a billion more than its nearest competitor, fellow Big Four firm EY. Meanwhile, top ten competitors such as BAE Systems have actually scaled back spending on the lucrative business – meaning Deloitte’s position as the leader of the pack looked increasingly reassured.

However, 2017 was also the year that the Deloitte was hit by a major breach of security. A hacker compromised the firm’s global email server through an “administrator’s account” that, in theory, gave them privileged, unrestricted “access to all areas” – including significant aspects of US governmental apparatus. Despite Deloitte referring to the process as a “sophisticated hack” meanwhile, the Guardian, which first revealed the breach to the public, also reported sources having stated that the account required only a single password, and did not have “two-step“ verification.

Deloitte to invest £430 million in bolstering cyber security defences

While a subsequent investigation from disgraced former New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman seems to have vanished following his exit from office amid sexual abuse allegations, Deloitte remains keen to avoid any further controversy on the matter. As a result, the Big Four firm has announced plans to pump £430 million into bolstering its own cyber security defences.

As well as helping to restore the trust of clients in the firm’s security, Deloitte’s increased cyber security budget will go towards advanced monitoring capabilities, more staff for the cyber team and new technologies to improve data protection. The news follows the announcement of the company’s European practice in March that it planned to hire another 500 staff to work in cyber security by the end of 2018. The first marquee hire of this intake was former Executive Director of European law enforcement agency Europol, Rob Wainwright, who arrives at the firm in June with a remit to focus on cyber crime and fraud.

Larry Quinlan, Deloitte’s global Chief Information Officer, said the firm was upping its spending in the area to combat cyber threats which are “evolving and persistent”. He further explained, “Cyber threat management is a fundamental part of doing business today and requires more than just the right technology and infrastructure. It requires the right behaviours as well.”

Quinlan then pointedly added, “No company or industry is immune from a cyber incident.”

This is something that entities of all shapes and sizes will be well aware of. Last year fellow consultancy Accenture was caught out with lax cyber defences, having left client information in a unprotected cloud server. Financial institutions are the most common target, perhaps unsurprisingly, with large companies including Equifax, JPMorgan, Merck and DLA Piper among those that have fallen victim to high-profile hacks of late. The implementation of Europe’s long heralded General Data Protection Regulation in May has also added further pressure on companies to boost their defences, with fines for breaching the rules of up to €20 million, or 4% of a company’s turnover, depending which is higher.

Similarly to Deloitte, the UK National Health Service was also caught out by a low-level hack in 2017. The WannaCry ransomware which breached patient data was able to enter the system via a gap left by legacy software which had not been updated beyond Windows XP as a cost-cutting measure for the cash-strapped NHS. Now the NHS is set to spend £150 million on cyber security to avoid future breaches of this kind.