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Ransomware Attacks on Critical Infrastructure Are Surging

According to Temple University’s Cybersecurity in Application, Research & Education Laboratory, ransomware attacks on critical infrastructure are on the rise, with about 75% of recorded incidents since 2013 having taken place in the last 18 months. The increasing frequency and severity of ransomware attacks are reflected by the steady increase in cyber insurance prices.

Threat actors can target critical infrastructure with geopolitical or financial motivations. They are well aware of the potential knock-on impacts on businesses and economies, as these attacks can cripple unprepared organizations by halting operations for extended periods.

A failure to prevent or respond to ransomware incidents can lead to reputational and liability risks, with lasting impacts on trust dynamics between infrastructure operators and key stakeholders such as governments, investors and consumers. These trust implications are further discussed in Built to Last: Infrastructure and Trust In A Changing World, a new report from Marsh McLennan.

How the Pandemic Affected the Non-Insured Population

Rates for those without health insurance in the U.S. remained relatively stable in 2020, according to data from the Census Bureau, analyzed by the Kaiser Family Foundation. Results show that 10.2%, or 27.4 million nonelderly people, were uninsured throughout 2020, a 400,000 increase from 2018.

The uninsured rate among nonelderly non-Hispanic Black people increased from 10.5% in 2018 to 11.7% in 2020, while the rate for Asian people decreased from 7.7% in 2018 to 6.4% in 2020. Although a majority of those insured were covered by their employer’s insurance, the 41.3% that weren’t shows a need for personalized health care plans.

Eugene Sayan, founder of Softheon, a cloud-based health insurance exchange and service provider, predicts a sea change in health care. “There’s a great opportunity to break down this macroeconomy around health care under the pillars of Medicaid, Medicare, the marketplace and commercial,” says Sayan. “What we’re going to start to see is consumers, individuals, empowerment taking so many different shapes.”

What Are the Biggest Upcoming Risks for Organizations?

Changes in consumer demand and cyberattacks are the two biggest risks organizations expect to face in the next two years, according to polls undertaken by Marsh McLennan. Other notable risks include workforce and industry disruptions, as well as challenges associated with international trade.

The poll results also show that the risk outlook of businesses is heavily influenced by their sector. For example, financial sector companies highlighted digital risks — stemming from new technology adoption and cyberattacks — while industrial sector firms were most concerned about international trade.

Today’s dynamic global risk environment necessitates that organizations proactively navigate upcoming risks. Those that manage to do so will emerge more resilient and agile in the face of future disruptions.

Africa Tops All Continents in Retail-Sized Crypto Transfers

When it comes to cryptocurrency use, Africa leads the world in retail-sized transfers (those under $10,000), according to new data from crypto analysis firm Chainalysis. 

The 2020 Geography of Crypto report concludes that this is likely due to a large number of African expats using cryptocurrency to transfer money back home. Cryptocurrency provides a low-fee way for those living abroad to transfer money across country lines. Though many consider crypto a volatile investment, it can be more reliable in countries with a history of currency instability. 

This data also demonstrates the efficacy of cryptocurrency in providing a means for economic growth, and venture capitalists like Jack Dorsey have taken notice. Recently, African-focused cryptocurrency exchange Yellow Card announced it has raised $15 million in Series A funding by the likes of Valar Ventures, Third Prime and Castle Island Ventures, with Dorsey’s Square also participating. It is the largest crypto-focused venture investment on the continent.

10.5% of U.S. households faced food insecurity in 2020. Unchanged from 2019.

Source: BRINK

The Pandemic Didn’t Lead to an Increase of Food-Insecure Households In the U.S.

Despite a global pandemic, the amount of U.S. households facing food insecurity was stable throughout 2020. A recent report (pdf) by the USDA found that 89.5% of American households were food-secure last year, unchanged from 2019. 

Among the 10.5% of households that did face food insecurity, 5.1 million households (3.9% of the toal) faced very low food security — where members “experienced reduced food intake and disrupted eating patterns at times during the year because of limited money and other resources for obtaining food.” Households with children faced a disproportionate amount of food insecurity when compared to 2019, however. About 7.5% of U.S. households with children faced food hardships in 2020 — up from 6.5% in 2019.

The fact that the food-insecure population held steady during a global pandemic shows the impact of U.S. social safety nets, which helped vulnerable populations weather the storm, as well as private relief efforts like charitable food donations.

 

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