Cyber Attack: Quarter of Families Targeted

15 November 2017

28% of international families, family offices and family businesses have experienced a cyber attack in the past.

This is according to Private & Confidential: The Cyber Security Report, a new study by Schillings in partnership with Campden Wealth, in which over a third (38%) of participants stated they do not currently have a cyber security plan in place, despite 98% of families citing reputation as important to their family’s success.

Schillings’ chief executive and partner Rod Christie-Miller said amid a rising number of high-profile cyber attacks, families were failing to see such attacks as a threat to their reputation; despite the fact they can result in blackmail, extortion and smear campaigns.

“There is a fine line between complacency and confidence. The link between private and confidential information being stolen, and the impact this can have on reputation, is not being made”, Christie-Miller said.

Of the 28% who had suffered a cyber attack, 77% – a fifth of the total sample – had been subject to phishing; a form of social engineering attack targeting a specific individual as a way into the family.

Cyber criminals regularly make use of publicly available information to improve the success rate of a social engineering campaign. Yet the study also revealed 51% of respondents have never audited, or don’t know if they have audited, their publicly available information.

There were also stark regional differences in attitudes to cyber security—and levels of preparedness.

  • Just 26% of Asia-Pacific families have a cyber security plan in place, compared to 66% in Europe, the best-prepared region.Those in North America reported the highest level of known attacks (41%), followed by a 32% attack rate in Europe, 15% in Asia Pacific, and 14% in Emerging Markets.
  • However, 20% of those in Asia Pacific said they were not sure whether they had suffered a cyber attack.
  • North American families were most likely to see social media as driving the importance of reputation, with 58% citing it, compared to 20% in Asia-Pacific, and 14% in Europe.
  • Meanwhile, European families were more likely to place emphasis on increased transparency and disclosure requirements, or previous encounters with business-related reputation issues.

Christie-Miller says cyber security needs to be a board-level issue, rather than being relegated to the IT department. “With only a third (34%) of respondents undertaking internal cyber security awareness training, and with phishing the most cited cause of cyber attack, families need to invest further in their human firewalls, alongside their technical firewalls, while taking a greater interest in their publicly available data before someone else does.”

Campden Wealth chief executive Dominic Samuelson said while it was encouraging to see families taking note of cyber security threats, “more work needs to be done”.

“As the consequences of some cyber attacks and the loss of private and confidential information may not be immediately visible, experts warn that these numbers, in fact, are likely to be higher.” 

To request a complimentary copy of Private and Confidential - The Cyber Security Report, please contact

About the research:

Quantitative data analysed in this report was derived from an online survey of 121 individuals in Europe, North America, Asia-Pacific and so called Emerging Markets (the Middle East, South America and Africa). A significant majority of research participants came from single family offices (SFOs) and family businesses, with the average estimated level of family wealth at $1.1bn. 11 qualitative interviews provided context and clarification of the key findings that emerged from the in-depth analysis of the quantitative data.

About Schillings:

Reputation and privacy are paramount, so when it comes to a crisis or an ongoing need, there’s no room for doubt. Schillings is the only business in the world to deploy intelligence experts, investigators, cyber specialists, risk consultants, lawyers and senior people from the military, banking and government. By operating as a single team, they shorten the time between investigating a problem and solving it. When there’s a reputation or privacy crisis, they deploy their combined experience in intelligence, investigations, cyber, risk and law to find the fix, and control the crisis.

About Campden Wealth:

Campden Wealth is the leading independent provider of information, education and networking (in print, in person, online and via research) for generational family business owners and family offices globally. Campden Research supplies market insight on key sector issues for its client community, and their advisors and suppliers. Through in-depth studies and comprehensive methodologies, Campden Research provides unique and proprietary data and analysis based on primary sources.

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