Reducing Informational Disadvantages to Improve Cyber Risk Management


Effective cyber risk management should include the use of insurance not only to transfer cyber risk but also to provide incentives for insured enterprises to invest in cyber self-protection. Research indicates that asymmetric information, correlated loss, and interdependent security issues make this difficult if insurers cannot monitor the cybersecurity efforts of the insured enterprises. To address this problem, this paper proposes the Cyber Risk Scoring and Mitigation (CRISM) tool, which estimates cyberattack probabilities by directly monitoring and scoring cyber risk based on assets at risk and continuously updated software vulnerabilities. CRISM also produces risk scores that allow organisations to optimally choose mitigation policies that can potentially reduce insurance premiums.

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  1. 1.

    We use the terms “cyber risk insurance” and “cyber insurance” interchangeably.

  2. 2.

    See Gordon et al. (2003); Kesan et al. (2004); Böhme (2005); Ogut et al. (2005); Majuca et al. (2006).

  3. 3.

    See Eling and Schnell (2016).

  4. 4.

    See Ehrlich and Becker (1972).

  5. 5.

    See Schwartz et al. (2010).

  6. 6.

    See Marotta et al. (2017).

  7. 7.

    See Biener et al. (2015).

  8. 8.

    See Berliner (1982).

  9. 9.

    AIG offered the first cyber insurance policy to cover policyholders for third-party losses caused by breaches that originated from outside the company:

  10. 10.

    See RMS (2016).

  11. 11.

    See SANS Institute (2016).

  12. 12.

    See Aon (2017).

  13. 13.

    See Lloyds (2015).

  14. 14.

    See Cebula and Young (2010).

  15. 15.

    See Filtner (2010).

  16. 16.

    See NIST (2012).

  17. 17.

    See Jouini et al. (2014).

  18. 18.

    See NIST (2011).

  19. 19.

    This list was compiled by the authors using a website for each tool.

  20. 20.

    Traditional risk scoring tools, for example used by underwriters for determining policyholder risk for auto insurance, depend on proxy categories, such as driver age, gender, vehicle type, address, and policyholder-specific information such as credit score and claims history. CRISM can be considered analogous to the use of telematics in determining auto insurance premiums where the continuously monitored actual behaviour of the specific policyholder is added as a factor in determining the premium (Baecke and Bocca, 2017).

  21. 21.

    An attack graph models system security vulnerabilities and all potential sequences through which the vulnerabilities can be exploited.

  22. 22.

    CVSS is an open framework for estimating and quantifying software vulnerabilities of various vendors.

  23. 23.

    The CRISM approach to using attack graphs and converting the CVSS base scores into probabilities leverages work from other researchers, such as Wang et al. (2008); Poolsappasit et al. (2012); Homer et al. (2013).

  24. 24.

    NVD is a repository that provides CVSS scores for all known vulnerabilities for software and operating systems. The NVD was created by the Department of Homeland Security to inform the public about common computer vulnerabilities ( It is maintained by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). Before CVSS, there was no common platform to identify the vulnerabilities, and therefore vendors used their own methods for scoring the vulnerabilities. The National Infrastructure Assurance Council (NIAC) launched CVSS in 2005 ( Several major organisations such as CERT, IBM, and Cisco were involved in the development of CVSS. These organisations also use these metrics to prioritise the response to the vulnerabilities they encounter in their day-to-day activities. CVSS is currently maintained by the Forum of Incident Response and Security Teams (FIRST).

  25. 25.

    CVE is a dictionary that assigns unique identifiers for all the security vulnerabilities that are publicly known ( CVE is used as the industry standard for vulnerability and exposures names. Once a vulnerability is discovered, it is assigned a unique CVE Identifier (e.g. CVE-2012-0015), which includes a brief description and references, such as advisories or vulnerability reports. CVE was quickly adopted by organisations, and its use is so widespread that organisations are producing “CVE Compatible” products and services.

  26. 26.

    For CVSS details related to these components, refer to

  27. 27.

    See Tøndel et al. (2016).


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This work was supported by the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering [OASD (R&E)] Agreement FA8750-15-2-0120 and Department of Homeland Security Grant 2015-ST-061-CIRC01.

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Correspondence to Michael McShane.

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 Approved for public release: distribution unlimited. Case Number: 88ABW-2017-2684, dated 26 May 2017.

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Shetty, S., McShane, M., Zhang, L. et al. Reducing Informational Disadvantages to Improve Cyber Risk Management. Geneva Pap Risk Insur Issues Pract 43, 224–238 (2018).

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  • cyber risk management
  • cyber insurance
  • vulnerability assessment
  • security risk scores
  • Bayesian belief networks
  • attack graphs