Ransomware attacks have increased in frequency over the past few years. They now rank as the second most frequent type of claim against cyber insurance policies. Experts estimate that a new business is hit with a ransomware attack every fourteen seconds. For 2019, early information is showing that the frequency of ransomware attacks may be decreasing. This seemingly positive trend comes with two significant drawbacks however.
There are recognized patterns of higher risk. For example, Hurricanes and earthquakes do catastrophic damage to a specific geographic area. These natural disasters pose unique risks to insurance companies as a result of that history. If an insurance company insures at lot of this type of risk, it can face massive losses and have its financial stability threatened. For this reason, insurance companies try to avoid insuring too many homes or businesses (for this example) in an at risk area for hurricane or earthquake damage. While this helps keep insurance companies financially sound, it can make coverage harder to obtain for those who need it most.
The problem of Social Engineering techniques called Phishing, Whaling, Spear Phishing, Pharming, or Impersonation Fraud has become significant and widespread in recent years. The insurance industry has made efforts to keep these risks in mind for cyber liability policies. Sometimes there is language added that will protect a company, but sometimes communication is added to a basic policy that would not protect a business against these specific risks.
More and more companies are purchasing cyber insurance as the risks to the company’s businesses from the breach of their networks expand. More companies are also requiring that their vendors and contractors obtain cyber insurance to protect themselves from breaches caused by third parties. As the cyber insurance market place grows, it’s important for companies to know what they get with their cyber insurance policies to maximize the advantage of their purchase.
Ransomware continues to be a popular tool among hackers and cyber criminals. By locking users out of their own systems, these cyber criminals can extort significant payments from companies who risk losing way more money due to the interruption to their business. Traditionally, the number one target of ransomware attacks has been the healthcare industry due to the incredibly time-sensitive nature of their business. Recently however, hackers have focused their attacks on industrial businesses which is bad news for product manufacturers and physical plants.
The cyber market has evolved incredibly in a few short years. It’s been barely more than twenty years since the internet became a ubiquitous presence in the lives of most Americans. As cyberspace has grown, the risks attendant on cyberspace has grown as well. To meet the challenges of combining scope and risk, legislators and courts have had to move quickly to regulate this area and protect individuals from loss. At the same time, insurance companies have had to tailor policies to protect companies from the risks of doing business online.
It seems not a week goes by these days without news breaking of another massive data breach affecting hundreds of millions of people. At the end of November 2018, Marriot, the global hotel chain, announced they had been hacked and the personal information of five hundred million preferred customers had been exposed to criminals. What’s worse, Marriott announced the original data breach occurred over four years ago, leaving people unknowingly at risk for identity theft during that time.
Within the context of cyber security, one most always discusses the subject in exponentials; Whether considering the number of breached records, the amount of damage, or the size of data leaks. What was groundbreaking three years ago in volume will seem quaint by the end of the year. A host of news stories regarding the 2013 and 2014 data breaches at Yahoo Inc. over the past few months have underlined this aspect of the conversation about cybersecurity. It serves as a stark reminder that companies need to keep an eye on their cyber risks and seriously consider purchasing cyber insurance if they have not done so already to survive this increasingly harsh ecosystem.
Wire transfer fraud claims resulting from cyber attacks have increased dramatically over recent years, and companies are losing millions of dollars in these attacks. As is common when a new business risk develops, organizations look to their insurance policies to help cover their losses. As we have shared in previous examples, the coverage is not always adequate.
The extent of coverage for a company that has been a victimized may be sparse, and the costs of any breach are ongoing. Consequences of a fraudulent wire transfer depend not just on the specific wording in the policies a business has purchased, but as seen in the following instances, also being upheld differently in different states.
Risk transfers are a vital aspect of any comprehensive risk management plan. Theoretically, those in the best position to avoid a risk should always bear responsibility for the risk. The real world does not work that way, unfortunately. Oftentimes, larger companies and larger contractors use risk transfers to try and push liability “downhill” – onto the backs of smaller companies with less negotiating leverage.