Surging threats, slashed budgets, and cautious optimism: Telstra Ventures shines light on cybersecurity challenges during economic crisis

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  • 569% increase in malicious phishing emails and 44% increase in malware in 2022 according to new findings
  • 14% of CISOs facing budget cuts or culls as economic pressures bite, but budget increases for 52%
  • Industry leaders call for democratisation to improve cybersecurity posture

30th March 2023, London, UK – In the face of economic turmoil, businesses are facing the dual challenge of declining or stagnating cybersecurity budgets and escalating – and increasingly complex –  threats, Telstra Ventures has today revealed, bringing together industry leaders from AttackIQ, Cofense, and Corvus Insurance to discuss how to tackle the issue. According to data from Telstra’s forthcoming ClubCISO report, which surveyed 182 global CISOs, some 14% of respondents said their budgets had either decreased or been cut completely, with a third (34%) stating these decreases were due to economic downturn/potential recession, while 30% revealed cuts had been driven by profit and loss pressures.

This comes at a time when threats are surging, as provider of phishing detection and response, Cofense, revealed. In 2022, Cofense Intelligence, which sources insights from the company’s global network of more than 35 million people, detected 569% more malicious phishing emails, had a 478% increase in the number of credential phishing – related Active Threat Reports published, and identified a 44% increase in malware. This follows a recent study from AttackIQ, which revealed that the company’s cloud customers found that endpoint detection and response (EDR) security controls only stopped top adversary techniques 39% of the time, highlighting the importance of continuous testing to maximise return on investment.

Compounding the challenge is the fact that threats are becoming increasingly sophisticated. According to Cofense, 2022 saw a 341% increase in Web3 technologies being used in phishing attacks. With economic pressures raging, attacks are also becoming more financially motivated; some 37% detected by Cofense last year were financial-related, underscoring the risk breaches pose to businesses’ bottom lines. This was further supported by Corvus, with ransomware and Fraudulent Funds Transfer being consistent tactics of choice for threat actors in Q3 2022, together representing more than half of all Corvus claims.

Despite this concerning outlook there remains optimism, with 52% of ClubCISO respondents experiencing increases in their security budget in spite of economic headwinds. Of this figure,

39% stated this was due to the evolution of the threat landscape, demonstrating recognition of the need to bolster security capabilities in the face of increasing risk.

Camille Mendler, Chief Analyst, Enterprise Services, at Omdia, who chaired the panel, framed the conversation by discussing the increasingly fragmented security landscape, and how it is vital that security is seen as a business priority and not just a CISO responsibility.

Keith Ibarguen, CPO, Cofense, called on the industry to collaborate and share intelligence to mitigate threats, with the company announcing that its global network has enabled it to achieve a 99.996% occurrence on phishing analysis over the last year.

Jonathan Reiber, Vice President at AttackIQ, an independent vendor of breach and attack simulation solutions, stressed the importance of democratising cybersecurity to both mitigate cost pressures and tackle threats – and the importance of leveraging resources already available. In particular, he called on companies to pay close attention to the MITRE ATT&CK Framework, and how it can help companies bolster their security capabilities against known techniques:

“What’s changed the democratisation of preparedness in cybersecurity is this framework that says this is how an attack works. You can then build defences around these methods. We now know what adversaries do. We see the same tactics and techniques repeated over and over. What companies must do is exercise their defences against those known tactics and techniques.” 

Speaking ahead of the panel, Reiber spotlighted the role of technology not just in terms of threat mitigation, but to help companies secure cybersecurity insurance while reducing premiums. Drawing on the example of a leading bioscience company, he highlighted how data from AttackIQ had enabled the organisation to work with their underwriter to reduce their insurance costs, helping to save the company money at a critical time.

Lori Bailey, Chief Insurance Officer at Corvus Insurance, further emphasised the need for data-driven risk mitigation, and discussed how insurance can be combined with real intelligence on vulnerabilities to make policyholders safer. Bailey also commented on the urgent need for insurance coverage to be adapted to current threats, stating:

“While the cyberattack continuum has been evolving and continues to grow irrespective of the economic environment, with the economic downturn, we are seeing a real increase in activity – and tightening of security budgets. From an insurance standpoint, we’re very focused on making sure that if policyholders are facing budget constraints, they are really focused on the areas that are going to make the most impact and have the most robust outcomes. Events such as the banking crisis over the last few weeks create huge pockets of opportunities for ransomware and threat actors. It’s these types of incidents for which we make sure our policyholders are educated, look for areas where they can protect themselves, and ensure they do not fall victim to these threats.”

Despite the increasing risk, the industry leaders remained broadly optimistic, particularly given the advent of technology to tackle challenges. However, technology alone is not enough to mitigate threats and people capabilities must be seen as just as important, noted Rob Robinson, head of Telstra Purple, EMEA:

“Keeping pace with the rapidly evolving threat landscape requires innovative technology, but that’s only part of the solution. Organisations must also focus on people and actively promote a culture that empowers employees to act as the first line of defence against emerging threats. With 29% of security leaders viewing the human element as a key determining factor of cyber resilience, ingraining security into an organisation’s DNA ensures that security best practices and behaviours become second nature.”

About Telstra Ventures

Telstra Ventures identifies what’s next, right now. Telstra Ventures serves extraordinary leaders and helps them achieve their dreams. In our first ten years, 91 investments have generated 35 liquidity events including Auth0, BigCommerce, Box, Cloopen, CrowdStrike, DocuSign, Rancher, Skillz, Snap, and Whispir. To date, our Revenue Acceleration Platform has driven approx US$500 million in revenue for our portfolio companies, extending their reach across Australia, Asia, UK and the US. In 2022, we announced the close of our third fund , bringing Funds Under Management toUS$1 Billion. To see our full portfolio and learn more, visit

About AttackIQ

AttackIQ, the leading independent vendor of breach and attack simulation solutions, built the industry’s first Security Optimization Platform for continuous security control validation and improving security program effectiveness and efficiency. AttackIQ is trusted by leading organizations worldwide to plan security improvements and verify that cyberdefenses work as expected, aligned with the MITRE ATT&CK framework. The Company is committed to giving back to the cybersecurity community through its free award-winning AttackIQ Academy, open Preactive Security Exchange, and partnership with MITRE Engenuity’s Center for Threat-Informed Defense. For more information, Follow AttackIQ on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and YouTube.

About Cofense
Cofense® is a global email security company and leading provider of phishing detection and response (PDR) solutions. As the only end-to-end email security solution powered by a global network of more than 35 million users, Cofense applies a unique combination of automated intelligence sources to identify, protect, detect, and respond to email security threats. Utilizing crowdsourced intelligence and machine learning, our platform enables customers to proactively evolve with the threat landscape while better defending and protecting themselves against email attacks. With seamless integration into most major TIPs, SIEMs, and SOARs, Cofense solutions easily align with existing security ecosystems. Threat analysts in our five global phishing defense centers (operating 24×7) work to support Cofense’s more than 2,000 enterprise customers, including 25% of the Fortune 1000, across critical sectors such as defense, energy, financial services, healthcare, and manufacturing. With 27 patents, and more than 500 million simulations delivered, Cofense provides the technology and insight to help businesses improve security, remediate threats, and reduce the risk of compromise. For additional information, please or connect with us on Twitter and LinkedIn.

About Corvus Insurance

Corvus Insurance is building a safer world through insurance products and digital tools that reduce risk, increase transparency, and improve resilience for policyholders and program partners. Our market-leading specialty insurance products are enabled by advanced data science and include Smart Cyber Insurance® and Smart Tech E+O™. Our digital platforms and tools enable efficient quoting and binding and proactive risk mitigation. Corvus Insurance offers insurance products in the U.S., Middle East, Europe, Canada, and Australia. Current insurance program partners include Crum & Forster, Hudson Insurance Group, certain underwriters at Lloyd’s of London, R&Q Accredited, SiriusPoint, and The Travelers Companies, Inc. Corvus Insurance, Corvus London Markets, and Corvus Germany are the marketing names used to refer to Corvus Insurance Agency, LLC; Corvus Agency Limited; and Corvus Underwriting GmbH. All entities are subsidiaries of Corvus Insurance Holdings, Inc. Corvus Insurance was founded in 2017 and is headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts with offices across the U.S., in the UK, and Germany. For more information, visit

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