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Can Cyber Insurance Protect You from Viruses, Hacks and Breaches?


Risks in the Age of Cyber-Breaches, Viruses and Hacks

Nowadays almost all walks of life pass through the cyberspace, shopping, banking, media coverage, entertainment, even day to day interaction between friends and family members. A big part of our life is spent in the cyberspace. That’s why it’s important to make it a safe space. The antivirus industry is working towards achieving that.

Sadly, there’s still a lot of work to be done.

Massive security breaches, hacked accounts and leaked personal information are almost a daily occurrence at this point. Big name sites with giant user bases suffer enormous security breaches, due to crafty attacks or just plain bad security measures. Millions of users have had their personal information stolen by hackers. While cyber security companies do their best to prevent that from happening, it is evident that data breaches still cannot be prevented. Moreover, damage control can be very costly for both companies and users. What can be done about that expense? One answer is getting a cyber-insurance policy!

What Is Cyber Insurance?

The goal of cyber insurance is to protect users and companies from risks in the cyber-space. The insurance can cover hacking, denial of service attacks, intrusions of privacy, identity theft, phishing, spam, viruses, and other cyber threats. In theory, cyber insurance shouldn’t be any different than any other damage insurance. After all, digital, like any other type of property can be damaged, which costs a lot of money, in repairs and future loses. However, the tricky part of insuring digital property is the cost evaluation. What’s the inherent financial value of digital data? How much should this insurance cover? Can they keep up with the tremendous speed in which new cyber threats pop up?

The Costs of Cyber-Breaches

A recent survey by IBM and the Ponemon Institute puts the cost of an average security breach at about 4 million dollars. The infamous breach of Epsilon’s e-mail service back in 2011 is estimated to have caused hundreds of millions in damages; the wildest estimates billions in losses. The hacking of Sony’s Playstation Network cost the company 170 million dollars, and again, billions were potentially lost in the hack. There are many other examples and no company is 100% safe, no matter how big or small.

The Viability of Cyber Insurance

As you can see, the numbers are hard to pin down. Cyber insurance has been around for about 10-15 years, but most people are still unfamiliar with it, many don’t even know that it exists. Despite the increase of cyber threats, cyber insurance isn’t particularly popular today…

Why Is Cyber Insurance Still Not Popular?

  • It’s an unproven market. Fire, burglary, death and all the other types of threats that are covered by conventional insurance policies have been with humanity since the dawn of time, and their value can be calculated more easily. Cyberspace, however, has been with us for a few short decades. There’s not a lot of data upon which an effective cyber security policy can be based.
  • It’s not widely adopted by the bigger players the insurance business. Some companies offer cyber insurance, but the options are still few.
  • The wide variety of cyber-attacks. Virtually every security breach is unique and it would be very hard for insurance companies to devise policies that would be adequate for every possible scenario.
  • The best option to deal with security breaches is to prevent them from happening. That can be achieved with good protection software, vigilance and security discipline.

Users are doing their best to combat these threats with antivirus programs, firewalls and spam blocking add-ons. Big corporations are trying to improve their security as well. Huge effort is being put into detecting and eliminating threats before they become massive.

Many cyber security companies such as Symantec together with independent researchers are constantly working towards developing and deploying tools and techniques to detect malicious software and anomalies. The end goal is to protect the overall cyber infrastructure and its users from negative impact. Cyber insurance is definitely an approach to be considered, especially for business owners.

Nonetheless, there’s still a lot of room for improvement, but as the world becomes more connected, cyber insurance is sure to draw more and more attention. Will insurance prove to be a viable branch of the cyber security business? Only time will tell!

Berta Bilbao

Berta is a dedicated malware researcher, dreaming for a more secure cyber space. Her fascination with IT security began a few years ago when a malware locked her out of her own computer.

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