Hiscox stages 'real world' cyber attack on iconic bike manufacturer Brompton

  • Insurer targets high-profile bike manufacturer's retailer network with a staged ‘offline' cyber attack simulation, to raise awareness of cyber crime and how it feels to be hacked
  • Imitation store appears overnight containing ‘knock-off' counterfeit stock and staff doppelgangers
  • Reactions captured as staff of the original store watch a series of real-world hacks unfold in front of their eyes.

London, UK (10 January 2019) – Members of the public watched in astonishment recently as staff at a retailer of the iconic bike manufacturer Brompton arrived to find their store had been ‘hacked'.

In its latest cyber initiative, global insurer Hiscox, a specialist in small business and cyber insurance, collaborated with Brompton Bicycle to stage a ‘real world' hack – simulating the effects of a cyber attack by constructing a complete clone of their east-London store overnight, hiring look-a-like staff and even stocking the shelves with counterfeit merchandise.

Reactions of staff and passers-by1 (watch the video) were captured as the fake store - ‘3rompton' - opened its doors to the public on the opposite side of the road and subsequently launched a series of cyber attack simulations on the genuine Brompton store in Shoreditch.

Common hacking techniques such as ransomware and phishing were brought to life through a series of simulated offline attacks; the real store was boarded up, displaying a ransom note demanding Bitcoin in exchange for re-entry; genuine stock deliveries were diverted to the fake ‘3rompton' store, highlighting the potential effects of a phishing scam; finally the real Brompton store was flooded with imitation customers overwhelming staff, simulating a denial-of-service (DDoS) attack.

According to the insurer, one in three (33%)2 UK small businesses have suffered a cyber breach and this simulation is the latest initiative in its cyber awareness campaign, set-up to highlight this risk.

James Brady, Head of Cyber at Hiscox, commented: "The frequency and severity of cyber attacks on UK businesses is alarming. Cyber criminals are swift, sophisticated and consider businesses of all shapes and sizes worthy targets so it's vital that organisations are both aware of these risks and prepared to manage them.

"Businesses need to take ownership of their cyber security and put solid preventative measures in place. Unfortunately attacks will still get through and being prepared for those attacks is critical."

Robert Hannigan, former Director of GCHQ and Special Advisor to Hiscox, commented: "Cyber crime is one of the biggest security risks facing businesses today but many aren't taking it seriously and many more are underprepared. It's a less tangible risk than burglary or a fire which can make it hard for businesses to grasp, so bringing cyber crime to life with an exercise like this is a useful way of conveying an important message.

"The hacking techniques being simulated such as ransomware and phishing are extremely commonplace and have been for many years. At the same time, new types of cyber crime continue to emerge, which makes staying on top of cyber security an ever-evolving challenge."

Will Butler-Adams, CEO Brompton Bicycle, added: "Our business is about our bike; the design, function and support we give to our customers over the life of the product. We have spent forty years developing the Brompton brand and continue to take risks to innovate and improve the design. When people copy us, with little understanding of the engineering and care behind the design, they are trying to fool our customers who may go on to buy a potentially dangerous product. We wanted to work with Hiscox to highlight these risks, as it is a serious issue and is not limited to the product but also to online cyber fraud, spam emails and viruses, that hurt businesses and their customers alike."

Cyber security incidents cost the average small business £25,7003 a year in direct costs (e.g. the costs of IT experts in response to the incident, lost revenue and replacement systems) but this is just the beginning. Indirect costs such as damage to reputation, the impact of losing customers and difficulty attracting future customers, means the true figure can be significantly higher.


Notes to editors

  1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y1b8865GOHU&feature=youtu.be #RealWorldHack
  2. Figure taken from YouGov Survey, Dec 2017 of 2,056 SME decision makers.
  3. Figure taken from the Hiscox Cyber Readiness Report. Research for this study was commissioned by Hiscox and conducted by Forrester Consulting via a survey of 4,103 professionals responsible for their organisation's cyber security strategy between 12 October and 10 November 2017.

For further information please contact:
Hiscox Ltd
Abi Clark        +44 (0) 20 7448 6470            [email protected]

About Hiscox Cyber and Data Insurance

Hiscox Cyber and Data risks insurance is designed to support and protect a business if it experiences a data breach or is the subject of an attack by a malicious hacker that affects its computer systems. It provides comprehensive cover, simplicity, reputation protection and a trusted partner in the event of a claim.

The new Hiscox CyberClear Academy is a GCHQ-accredited online cyber security training platform designed to train and raise cyber security awareness among employees and help protect businesses from cyber threats.

For more information visit https://www.hiscox.co.uk/business-insurance/cyber-and-data-insurance

About The Hiscox Group

Hiscox is a global specialist insurer, headquartered in Bermuda and listed on the London Stock Exchange (LSE:HSX). Our ambition is to be a respected specialist insurer with a diverse portfolio by product and geography. We believe that building balance between catastrophe-exposed business and less volatile local specialty business gives us opportunities for profitable growth throughout the insurance cycle. It's a long-standing strategy which in 2017 saw the business deliver a profit before tax (excluding foreign exchange) of £93.6 million despite reserving net $225 million for claims in the most costly year ever for natural catastrophes.

The Hiscox Group employs over 2,700 people in 14 countries, and has customers worldwide. Through the retail businesses in the UK, Europe, Asia and the US, we offer a range of specialist insurance for professionals and business customers as well as homeowners. Internationally traded, bigger ticket business and reinsurance is underwritten through Hiscox London Market and Hiscox Re & ILS.
Our values define our business, with a focus on people, quality, courage and excellence in execution. We pride ourselves on being true to our word and our award-winning claims service is testament to that. For more information, visit www.hiscoxgroup.com.

About Brompton Bicycle

Brompton bikes are sold in 47 countries around the world and over 80% of production is exported. The company is on target to produce over 48,000 bikes this year and close to 500,000 have hit the roads since the first bike was made 1975 by the inventor Andrew Ritchie. A Brompton bike is perfect for those that live, work or play in cities, or want to escape the city: The bike folds up to a third of its size, and weighs on average just 11kg for the standard model and from 16.5kg for the Brompton Electric, which means a Brompton is suitable to take on all forms of transport.

Brompton bikes are all custom-made, allowing the customer to choose exactly the bike that suits their needs. A broad selection of accessories and luggage means a Brompton bike can be accessorised as the customer wishes, it's a complete transport solution. One Brompton bike takes 6.2 tonnes less carbon than a car to make and 42 folded Brompton bikes can be parked in the space it takes to park one car.

Brompton Bicycle is the leading bicycle manufacturer in the UK, from its factory in Greenford, West London. Each bike is hand brazed by a skilled craftsman. This makes every bike incredibly tough and unique. Each brazer is trained for 18 months and has a "signature" which is stamped on the parts of the bike they work on. Brompton Bicycles home city of London has seen cycling increase by 91% since 2003.
There are currently 14 flagship Brompton Junction retail stores in cities across the world, including: London, Beijing, New York, Tokyo, Milan, Kobe, Hamburg, Shanghai, Amsterdam, Munich, Barcelona, Valencia, Melbourne and Tel Aviv. Brompton sells to a selected 1500 bike stores worldwide

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