It may be well over a year since I last wrote about cyber insurance,
but there has been a constant stream of ‘cyber’ scares in the media with the online release of nude photos of celebrities obviously the most newsworthy, even though the threat of the Heartbleed virus (the cyber equivalent of someone breaking into Fort Knox) was potentially far more serious.
The latest is Sony being hacked by a group called the Guardians of Peace who have started releasing as yet un-published films on the internet, as well as employee’s (including celebrities such as Sylvester Stallone) payroll and social security information. At first it was thought North Korea was responsible in retaliation for the Sony film ‘The Interview’ which mocks the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, although it now seems more likely to be a criminal organisation.
Cyber risks may be easy to dismiss when the victims are international stars and multi-national companies, but all the research shows that smaller businesses are affected too and depending on which stats you care to look at, it can be anything from 55% to 80% of firms suffering a cyber-attack in the last year or so.
Many companies are now looking at the Cloud for a solution as to costs and better security, however, popularity will attract new suppliers, so will corners be cut as they try and compete on price?
You need to choose your partner carefully as the use and storage of data is a big issue and will become bigger. It is also very complex and there are some very worrying developments with some very clever people wielding a lot of power. Some are good, some bad and some don’t seem to think.
Take the Whisper App, billed as a safe haven for internet users and marketed as ‘the first completely anonymous social network’ and the safest place on the internet to share innermost thoughts, secrets and feelings.
Once you get over the obvious question of why people want to do this, it sums up both the power of the internet and the complex ethical issues with its use.
It was felt that users of Facebook and Twitter could not speak honestly for fear of being demonised or trolled so Whisper provided a platform for truth. Objectionable content including hate speech, pornography, drugs etc are sifted out and if suicidal tendencies are mentioned, they are referred to a suicide hotline.
All good if you want this sort of thing, but despite the assurances of anonymity, The Guardian was given access to the back end of their site and Whisper have since been accused of monitoring and tracking their users, including some in The White House and Guantanamo Bay.
Whisper have denied the claims and suspended staff pending an investigation, but it begs the question whether anything on the internet is really safe.
The bottom line is that nothing cyber related is totally safe, even if you go to extreme lengths such as the founder of a bit coin ATM firm who decided to implant a chip in his hand as a publicity stunt to highlight the security of the digital currency. The near-field communication chip was embedded under his skin using a syringe and stores the key code for his bit coin wallet and other passwords, although he suggests going to a tattooist or piercer, as it seems most doctors will be reluctant to undertake the procedure.
But you do not have to go such lengths to protect your business. Yes you should do all the usual firewall and password protection with the computer experts, but also consider some specialist cyber insurance, particularly if your business is reliant on technology (and most are).
Most cyber risks from hacking, viruses and cyber-attacks are not covered by conventional insurance policies, but with prices starting from £300, why take the chance?