Willis Towers Watson partners with University of Oxford on cyber research


Willis Towers Watson has announced a partnership with the University of Oxford to conduct research into the cost of equity arising from severe cyber breaches.

The Willis Research Network will engage with the University to develop research looking at three key areas of cyber security risk focusing on:

Increases in systemic risk, leading to increase in cost of equity, following severe security breaches in publicly listed companies

The nature of cyberattack “resilience” – that is, success or failure [of an organisation] after a cyberattack

The current risk landscape of AI-facilitated impersonation (phishing) for fraudulent purposes, and the implications this has specifically for the insurance sector.

The partnership aims to ensure Willis Towers Watson clients can benefit from the in-depth research findings but also from sharing best practice across the industry. The University of Oxford’s research facility will lead to a robust, evidence-based set of conclusions and recommendations that will be relevant to policy makers and corporations and will enhance Willis Towers Watson’s advisory services. The first piece of research is expected in 2020 with others to follow into 2021.

Peter Foster, Chairman of Global FINEX Cyber and Cyber Risk Solutions, said “We are delighted to be in partnership with the University of Oxford and it’s world class research facilities to investigate further the impact that cyber security risk has on an organisation’s risk profile.  This unprecedented research project will enable us to provide an in-depth look into the implications of cyber security and to enhance existing solutions as well as advise our clients on how to mitigate this ongoing and ever-increasing risk factor.

Stuart Calam, Programme Director, Willis Research Network, Willis Towers Watson, said “The work at the University of Oxford perfectly complements our existing partnerships and allows us to expand on our technology risk research themes which combine broad areas of understanding with niche areas of research reflecting the specialist knowledge typical in this field.  We look forward to developing our relationship with the Cyber Security Centre further over the course of this work”

“The Willis Research Network has been industrial partners and Advisory Board members on the University of Oxford’s Cyber Security Centre for Doctoral Training since 2016 and continue to work to improve the understanding of risk for the benefits of our clients and wider industry”, Mr Calam added.