Hiscox turns billboards into hacker honeypots as cyber-risk warning

Specialist insurer Hiscox is using real-time cyber attacks on "honeypot" servers linked to billboard displays for its latest advertising campaign "CyberLive".

The campaign is part of a broader drive in the business to cement Hiscox's place in the cyber-risk marketplace and raise awareness of the threat that cybercrime poses to small businesses. 

Hiscox worked with advertising agency Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO, media agency Goodstuff, and out-of-home specialists Talon and Grand Visual to create this campaign.

"Hiscox CyberLive is about making small businesses more aware of the very real threat that cybercrime poses and challenging the belief that cybercriminals only target larger organisations," Olivia Hendrick, head of marketing and partnerships at Hiscox UK and Ireland, said.

"We were genuinely astounded by the number of attacks, especially up to 60,000 in one day, and hope this disruptive campaign serves as a reminder to all of the importance of cybersecurity," she added.

Data security is a growing issue among consumers. A recent YouGov study, commissioned by cybersecurity company RSA, found that 69% of consumers would boycott a brand that showed no regard for data security. The same study found that 72% of consumers were more aware of cybersecurity threats today than they were five years ago. 

The campaign will run from today across out-of-home sites, from Canary Wharf and Euston station to key roadside locations in Glasgow.

Three honeypot servers, of the type typically used by small businesses, were set up for the campaign. Data from these servers feed into live digital posters at prominent stations and roadside sites across the country.

Each time a cyber attack occurs, it triggers a pulsing red light on the poster, which gradually builds as further attacks occur and resets every 24 hours. The more attacks there are on the servers, the more the poster headline visually reacts.

Based on initial trials, the number of attempted attacks (and pulsing dots) each day is averaging 23,000 so over the course of the campaign the proxy servers are expected to be the target of around 148,000 attempted attacks.

The maximum number of attacks detected since 11 January when the servers went live, is 61,805 in one 24 hour period.

The "CyberLive" campaign also includes escalator panels at stations in London all aimed at dramatising the alarming frequency of cyber incidents in the UK.

Last year alone, one in four (26%) small businesses fell victim to at least one cyber attack